Updated: May 12, 2021
Many adults with autism say they experienced emotional trauma from the applied behavioral analysis (ABA) methods used in their childhood treatment program. The structured teaching did not take their personal needs into account and required them to “do what I say, now.”
Does that mean all ABA methods should be thrown out? I say no. It’s important to understand the methods so they can be integrated into a well-rounded communication therapy program. This blog post explains the basic principles of behavior that help us make learning more efficient. We can teach skills faster and more accurately when we apply these principles consistently.
BUT the fatal flaw in ABA is that it says all behavior must be observable and measurable. It ignores the learning, reasoning and problem solving that happens inside our brain. It ignores the role language plays in shaping our thinking and learning. It ignores what makes us human.
Teaching communication is different than teaching most behaviors. Children need instruction that understands how social interaction is the foundation of communication development.
Social skills aren’t something to teach later, after a child starts talking. Social interaction gives humans the reasons we want to communicate with others. Effective speech-language therapy recognizes hour social motivation for communication and builds skills based on a child’s individual personality and needs.
Read here about a research-based intervention approach that teaches communication skills during daily social interactions while using the ABA principles of learning to get faster results.