Is ABA Therapy Harmful or Helpful for Kids with Autism?


As one of the most prevalent and evidence-based programs in the Autism world, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy has offered promising results for families dealing with Autism. Originally introduced in the early 1960s, over the years, ABA therapy has evolved into a powerful program that consists of a variety of behavioral interventions and positive reinforcement techniques. However, as is often the case with any treatment, ABA also has its fair share of myths and misconceptions. At AB Spectrum, our ABA therapy experts often come across parents who are anxious about the outcomes of ABA therapy. Here’s a closer look at how an ABA-based curriculum can help a child with ASD thrive.

  • ABA is a Behavior-Centric Program: ABA therapy could be the most critical factor that enables the healthy development and skill-building of your child with ASD. While ABA therapy offers many benefits, the most important aspect to consider is that the ABA program is based on extensive research of human behaviors. ABA therapy aims to reduce challenging behaviors and increase the consistency of desirable behaviors. It offers a structured approach, where the therapists, parents, caregivers, and teachers can observe behaviors, measure progress and see visible changes in the child’s critical skills (communication skills, social skills, life skills) and adaptive behaviors.

  • ABA Does Not Use Punishment: Through close observation of the child, the ABA therapist will design a customized curriculum that caters to every child’s unique needs and developmental goals. The therapists break down the behaviors into small increments and positive reinforcements, such as treats, praise, screen time, or other such rewards to help the child understand what is desirable and acceptable. Once the behavior becomes a habit, the therapist will scale back the prompts or rewards. ABA is not “compliance training”. It does not force the child to ignore boundaries or instincts and does not impact the child’s future relationships in any adverse manner.

  • ABA focuses on Understanding, Not on “Fixing”: ABA is not about making your child perform pointless or uncomfortable tasks or training them to “look more neurotypical”. ABA does not focus on ‘fixing’ children with Autism. Instead, the therapy helps in identifying the triggers and motivations and using them constructively to improve the child’s function and independence. The ultimate goal of ABA programs is to help the child

  • Assimilate better in society

  • Succeed in academic and professional endeavors

  • Lead an enhanced quality of life

  • ABA Therapy is Effective: Studies indicate that early diagnosis and intensive ABA therapy for an average of 40 hours a week can potentially help your child in completely overcoming their ASD diagnosis. Choosing ABA therapy for your child is about improving the quality of life of the entire family. If you actively participate in therapy, you will be able to generalize the learnings from the formal sessions and apply them to real-life situations and experiences.

At Autism and Behavior Spectrum (AB Spectrum), we believe that ABA therapy is a high-impact program that can set the course for your child’s successful future. We use the Reggio Emilia ABA therapy approach based on the Natural Environment Training (NET) philosophy that focuses on

  • Language and literacy growth (communication – read, write and speak)

  • Physical and intellectual growth (habit training and following on-task behaviors)

  • Community growth (social skills, impulse control, attention span improvement)

Our experienced ABA professionals include Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) who design and deliver customized ABA curriculum for your child with Autism. Our goal is to bring about meaningful and long-lasting changes in the lives of children with Autism, as well as their families.


For more information about ABA therapy in St. Louis, call us at 314-339-7732 or book a free consultation at our Autism treatment clinic near you. If you suspect your child may have ASD, use our free screening tool, and one of our ABA professionals will be in touch to discuss the results.

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