Sunday, November 23, 2008

A debate about ABA in the UK

We recently were asked to assist in rebutting the arguments of a Local Education Authority (LEA) against the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the education of children with autism. An LEA is the U.K. equivalent of a U.S. school district. The original critique of ABA appears in the left column below and our response to each section appears in the right column. As you will see, the arguments made are based on misunderstanding of ABA and behavioral theory. According to the theories they cite, ABA should not work. But numerous controlled studies with autistic children clearly show that ABA does work. If one follows the scientific method, the only possible conclusion is that their theories are incorrect. After all, theories are just hypotheses that must be tested before they can be considered valid and when the evidence contradicts a theory, it should be revised or discarded. -JM

LEA Critique of ABAResponse from AP

Here are the full references for citations listed above:

Anderson, S.R., Avery, D.L., DiPietro, E.K., Edwards, G.L., & Christian, W.P. (1987). Intensive home-based intervention with autistic children. Education and Treatment of Children, 10, 352-366.

Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1(1), 91-97

Birnbrauer, J.S., & Leach, D.J. (1993). The Murdoch early intervention program after two years. Behaviour Change, 10, 63-74.

Cohen, H., Amerine-Dickens, M., & Smith, T. (2006). Early Intensive Behavioral Treatment: Replication of the UCLA Model in a Community Setting. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 27 (2), 145-155.

Eikeseth, S., Smith, T., & Eldevik, S. (2002). Intensive behavioral treatment at school for 4- to 7- year old children with autism. Behavior Modification, 26, 49-68.

Fenske, E.C., Zalenski, S., Krantz, P.J., McClannahan, L.E. (1985). Age at intervention and treatment outcome for autistic children in a comprehensive intervention program. Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, 5, 49-58.

Handleman, J.S., Harris, S.L., Cebiberti, D., Lilleht, E., & Tomcheck, L. (1991). Developmental changes of preschool children with autism and normally developing peers. Infant-Toddler Intervention, 1, 137-143.

Handleman, J.S., Harris, S.L., Kristoff, B., Fuentes, F., & Alessandri, M. (1991). A specialized program for preschool children with autism. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 22, 107-110.

Harris, S.L., & Handleman, J.S., (1994). Preschool education programs for children with autism. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Harris, S.L., Handleman, J.S., Gordon, R, Kristoff, B., Fuentes, F. (1991). Changes in cognitive and language functioning of preschool children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 21, 181-290.

Harris, S., Handleman, J.S., Kristoff, B., Bass, L., & Gordon, R. (1990). Changes in language development among autistic and peer children in segregated and integrated preschool settings. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 20, 23-31.

Howard, J.S., Sparkman, C.R., Cohen, H.G., Green, G., Stanislaw, H. (2005). A comparison of intensive behavior analytic and eclectic treatments for young children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 26, 359-383.

Leaf, R, & McEachin, J. (1999). A Work in Progress: Behavior Management Strategies & A Curriculum for Intensive Behavioral Treatment of Autism. NY: DRL Books

Leaf, R.B., Taubman, M, & McEachin, J.J. (2008) It’s Time For School: Building Quality ABA Educational Programs. New York, NY: DRL Books.

Leaf, R.B., McEachin, J.J., & Taubman, M. (2008). Sense and Nonsense in the Behavioral Treatment of Autism: It Has to be Said. New York, NY: DRL Books.

Lovaas, O.I. (1987). Behavioral Treatment and normal educational and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology, 55(1), 3-9.

Lovaas, O.I., Koegel, R. L., Simmons, J. Q., & Long, J. (1973). Some Generalization and Follow-up Measures on Autistic Children in Behavior Therapy. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 6. 131-166.

Matson, J., Benavidez, D., Compton, L., Paclawskyj, T., & Baglio, C., 1996. Behavioral Treatment of Autistic Persons: A Review of Research From 1980 to the Present. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 17-6, 433-465

McEachin, J.J., Smith, T., & Lovaas, O.I. (1993). Long-Term outcome for children with autism who received early intensive behavioral treatment. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 97(4), 359-372.

Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. (2000). Chapter 3.

National Research Council. (2001). Educating Children with Autism. National Academy Press: Washington, DC.

New York State Department of Health. (1999). Clinical practice guideline: Report of the recommendations autism/pervasive developmental disorders. Assessment and intervention for young children (ages 0-3). Albany: Author.

Perry, R., Cohen, I., & DeCarlo R. (1995). Case study: Deterioration, autism, and recovery in two siblings. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 232-237.

Sallows, G.O, and Graupner, T. D. (2005). Intensive Behavioral Treatment for Children With Autism: Four-Year Outcome and Predictors. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 110, 417-438.

Sheinkopf, S. J. & Siegel, B. (1998). Home-based behavioral treatment of young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28 (1), 15-23.

Smith, T., Groen., A., & Wynn, J.W. (2000). Randomized Trial of Intensive Early Intervention for Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 105, 269-285.

Weiss, M. J. (1999). Differential Rates of Skill Acquisition and Outcomes of Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention for Autism. Behavior Interventions, 14 (1), 3-22.

For more references on behavioral treatment and education of children with autism click here