Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

January 1st, 2012 | Admin

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ABA is a science that uses the principles of analysis of behaviors to improve socially significant behavior by using experimentation to identify the variables responsible for change in behavior. Human behavior includes everything we do, including thinking and feeling.
ABA based techniques are used to treat autism, so much so that ABA it often mistakenly considered to be a therapy for autism. The most widely cited review of the efficacy of treatment for autism is the National Research Council’s book on Educating Children with Autism (2001). They concluded that ABA was the best research supported and most effective treatment for the main characteristics of autism. More recent reviews of the efficacy of ABA for autism are as follows:

    • In 2007 the American Academy of Pediatrics said that “children who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior as well as some measures of social behavior.” Pediatrics
    • In 2008 the MIND Institute found that an ABA based approach is “well established” for improving intellectual performance of young children with ASD. Mind Institute
    • In a 2009 review of studies of children whose average age was six, it was found that ABA is “demonstrated effective in enhancing global functioning of pre-school children with autism” 2009 Review
    • A 2009 meta-analysis of 13 reports published from 1987-2007 of Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI, a form of ABA based on the Lovaas technique) found that effect of EIBI was generally positive for IQ, adaptive behavior, expressive language and receptive language. 2009 Meta Analysis
    • A 2009 systematic review of 11 studies published from 1987-2007 found that “there is strong evidence that EIBI is effective for some, but not all, children with autism spectrum disorders, and there is wide variability in response to treatment.” Furthermore, any improvements are likely to be greatest in the first year of intervention.  2009 Systematic Review
    • A 2009 meta-analysis of nine studies published from 1987-2007 found that ABA has a large effect on intelligence and a moderate effect on behavior. Meta Analysis
    • In 2011 Vanderbilt University did a comprehensive review of the scientific literature and found that “the strength of evidence … is low,””many children continue to display prominent areas of impairment,” “subgroups may account for a majority of the change,” there is “little evidence of practical effectiveness or feasibility beyond research studies,” and the published studies “used small samples, different treatment approaches and duration, and different outcome measurements.”  CER26
    • Another 2009 meta-analysis of four studies found that ABA did not significantly improve outcomes compared with standard care of preschool children with ASD in the areas of cognitive outcome, expressive language, receptive language, and adaptive behavior. Efficacy Meta Analysis

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