Thursday, December 21, 2006

ABA and Science

Today I read a beautifully written response to a post about ABA and if it's scientifically proven. I got very inspired to share this! One of those hot topics that often result in high emotions and my least favorite Autism activity, Therapy Bashing. As we all know, there are gobs to say about ABA - pro, con, bad, good, science to back it up, no science to back it up.

See below:

A therapist wrote, "I think that an important question to ask is "Scientifically Proven" to do what? If someone says that ABA is scientifically proven to: Cure autism? No. Improve IQ? No. Alleviate some of the symptoms of autism? Yes. Alleviate all of the symptoms of autism? No.

When discussing treatment options with parents, I phrase it in this way:
ABA is not a cure. Some children are able to become indistinguishable from
their peers but many do not. However, the scientific nature of a good
program should ensure progress at your child's level because data is
collected and used on a regular basis to make decisions. If you watch a
video of "Floortime" and an ABA session in the "NET", you would not be able
to tell the two apart. It is the data and careful analysis of the data that
sets ABA apart from other "therapies".

I think that the next set of studies from the ABA community should focus
more on specific outcomes of the individual students instead of trying to
reach "normalcy". How many of the kids we treat are unable to request their
wants and needs prior to intervention? How many kids are able to get
dressed independently, are potty trained, and eat with utensils? Would they
be able to do those things without ABA intervention? We have many (did you
say 800?) single subject designed studies that look at specific strategies.
Can't we expand upon them to show how beneficial ABA can be even if students
aren't "cured"?

Thankfully, because of ABA (NET style) and other interventions, my son is no longer disabled by autism. (he still has autism) And yes, it's painful to know that for others, this isn't the case. Many "try everything" to help support their children to no avail. This fact keeps me awake some nights.

My son has Autism, and mostly likely always will. He is uniquely wired and uniquely himself, thanks to genes, environment, and yes his autism. ABA has taken the disability part away, amazingly. And I wouldn't change a thing about him today.

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