Star Ford

Essays on lots of things since 1989.

Outcomes of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

on 2019 December 18

I’ve been told over and over that ABA is clinically proven and “evidence-based” and I never have found a link to that evidence. If you have it, you can post a comment.

However I did find two sources that give some other interesting results. The first is a large scale longitudinal study by the US DOD, and it shows this:

The graph shows out of about 1,700 people studied, 12% improved over one year on a collection of three measurement instruments, 81% had no change, and 7% worsened. (I don’t know what exactly the instrument measure.)

Full article:

The second source is this peer reviewed article in Cogent Pscyhology: How much compliance is too much compliance: Is long-term ABA therapy abuse? at

The researchers go into detail on how ABA works or doesn’t work, how it can be abusive, and differences in verbal/speaking and nonverbal/nonspeaking children. I believe both studies only surveyed children.

2 responses to “Outcomes of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

  1. Adelaide Dupont says:

    That is a BIG sample, Star!

    And it’s like medicine and psychotherapy which doesn’t get to the core.

    Compliance to me is like employment – some people want some of it; some people want more and can’t get it [and that line here in Australia has been static].

    So autistics stay autistic – and that in some ways is encouraging.

  2. Amik Nafte says:

    “ABA is considered an evidence-based “best” practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association” [this quote from comes at a top of Google search].

    That ‘ABA is evidence-based’ is a postulate just like a postulate that ‘earth is flat’. There are no links to verifiable evidence that confirms it, but there is glaring evidence that it is false.

    There’s been a definite move away from ABA among the practicing phycologists,evidenced by the disappearance of adherence to ABA in their bios [to my counting];

    I’ve also ran into some publications in Psychology journals that challenges the efficacy of this treatment, but this is the first peer reviewed article [to my reading] that comes to a conclusion that ABA practice equates to ABUSE of non-verbal autistic children!

    So perhaps we are entering a new stage.

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