Applied behavioral analysis challenges have become a concern with this method of behavior modification that focuses on specific actions that are unhelpful for the individual and that require adjustment. ABA is often used for children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder who have difficulty with communication and emotional control. The techniques are based on learning theory that serves to help individuals gradually develop more acceptable methods of interacting with others in a variety of different environments. It can be highly effective in changing behavior for some autistic individuals. However, it may not be the most effective method for all individuals, and other modalities may be needed. A number of concerns are associated with applied behavioral analysis for autistic individuals.
Applied Behavioral Analysis is Expensive
ABA requires an intensive period of commitment to the therapy. Patients will need at least 25 hours of therapy for at least one year. Some individuals on the autism spectrum disorder may require as much as 40 hours of therapy over 2 years. Of course, the training methods must be varied significantly to ensure participant interest in the process. Certified programs at a facility can cost as much as $60,000 to $120,000 per year. The costs of this much therapy can be prohibitive for most people. Many people choose to hire private practitioners, which cost significantly less. The involvement of parents in the therapy can help to facilitate the therapy, but not all parents are willing or able to provide the time commitment necessary for effective results.
ABA Produces Robot-Like Responses
Many parents fear that the strict training of ABA may produce robot-like responses and behavior on the part of their autistic child. However, as the practice of this method has evolved, greater understanding of the responses of autistic children has allowed more allowance for individual personalities of each individual child engaged in therapy.
ABA Is Less Effective Than Other Techniques
Applied behavioral analysis is not the panacea that can cure all behavioral problems of autistic individuals. Objective evidence has shown it can be highly effective for some, but not all individuals. The techniques can be incorporated into a broader program of therapy that takes into account individual differences and preferences for learning that provide the greatest amount of improvement in behaviors. The ability of ABA to provide measurable data for comparison makes it a worthwhile therapy for determining the effectiveness of various modalities of treatment.
ABA Can Damage Relationships Between Parents and Autistic Children
Parents are critical to providing detailed information about child receiving therapy and can provide accurate data for measuring results. In addition, the parents are important for reinforcing the training outside of the therapy setting. Although some people worry that this emphasis on observation and strict training methods can impact on the parent/child relationship, parental involvement can be adjusted to the needs of both the individual child and the parental ability to learn the techniques.
Finding Highly-Trained ABA Therapists Is Difficult
While it is true that a large number of individuals trained ABA techniques is not currently available, more learning institutions are beginning to offer the training for those interested in working with the ASD population. The development of the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board has provided a method of ensuring that therapists are properly trained and can offer the best outcomes for individuals engaged in behavioral analysis programs.
Related Resource: Top 10 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs 2015
Overcoming these issues offers the opportunity to provide a highly effective therapy for children who need intensive re-training for behavioral issues that occur with autism spectrum disorder. As more practitioners become available, these applied behavior analysis challenges are likely to be more easily resolved.