There are no specific hazards associated with applied behaviour analysis for individuals with autism as typically used today. However, in the past some ABA programmes involved the use of punishment (even electric shock) to reduce problem behaviours. There are also concerns that time-out procedures, if used incorrectly and unsystematically, can result in children being isolated or excluded for unnecessary lengthy periods of time.
Some critics claim that applied behavioural analysis does not enable children to generalise the skills they have learnt i.e. they can only do exactly what they have been taught to do, nothing else.
Others claim that the methods can lead children to become very prompt- or cue-dependent whereby they can perform tasks when prompted but do not spontaneously use these skills in everyday interactions.
Some critics also claim that extensive use and over reliance on early intensive behavioural interventions may be problematic because these are very time consuming and costly, leaving little time or money for other interventions.
There is also the moral debate about subjecting a child to very intensive therapy – some people argue that as adults we are only supposed to work 35 hours per week and yet we are asking children with autism to work 40+ hours with little free or unstructured time.
There are no known contraindications for applied behaviour analysis as a treatment for individuals with autism.
Last Updated : 25/01/2013 Back to Top