Applied Behavior Analysis

    Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a form of therapy commonly used to treat children with autism or other developmental disabilities. Children with developmental disabilities often face social or behavioral challenges in a variety of different settings. This treatment uses positive reinforcement in order to help those children develop skills that they’re not learning naturally. This treatment also works to reduce certain behaviors. Applied behavior analysis is one of the first and most common treatment methods recommended for autistic children.

    Although this treatment is still commonly being used, parents and autism advocates have shared their valid ethical concerns with this practice. ABA therapy rewards autistic children to hide their pain and discomfort, as well as rewards them for portraying neurotypical behavior. ABA therapy does not include improving the child’s emotional and mental health and instead treats the individual like they are a problem that needs to be fixed. Individuals with autism should be taught to cope with their challenges instead of ignoring them. Additionally, recent studies have shown that autistic adults remember traumatic events from ABA therapies and these individuals do not believe that they should be forced to behave neurotypical. A more welcoming and accepting society would allow for more inclusivity for the autistic community.


Anderson, L. K. (2023). Autistic experiences of applied behavior analysis. Autism, 27(3), 737-750.

Autistic Science Person. (2022). Why ABA therapy is harmful to autistic people.


  1. Absolutely, ABA therapy has been a cornerstone in treating children with autism and developmental disabilities by focusing on skill development through positive reinforcement. It's true that this approach has been widely recommended for its effectiveness in improving social and behavioral outcomes early on.

    At the same time, I agree with the concerns you've highlighted. It's essential to consider the ethical implications of ABA therapy, especially regarding its potential to prioritize conformity over the emotional and mental health needs of autistic individuals. Acknowledging and addressing these concerns can lead to more inclusive and supportive therapeutic practices that better accommodate the diverse experiences and strengths within the autistic community.


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