Common Myths

Common myths and misconceptions about ABA

  • Myth 1: ABA is going to turn my child into a ‘robot’.

    Behavioural rigidity is one of the characteristics of a child with ASD. When it comes to teaching a program or concept, the responses may be very simplistic at first e.g. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘John’. ABA then overcomes this rigidity by using many different examples to build on this response and transfer it to naturalistic settings. E.g. having someone else to ask ‘What’s your name?’ Or use a different way of asking ‘Your name is_____.’, ‘How would you like to be called?’. We also emphasis children's ability in expressing their desires and preferences through communication and let their personality shine through.
  • Myth 2: ABA uses bribes (e.g. toys or food) to manipulate behaviour

    There is a difference between bribes and the use of reinforcers. Bribes are statements such as ‘Here is candy, finish your homework’ are made before the person engages in the behaviour and often recruits negotiations. Furthermore, bribes are related to immoral and illegal behaviour. However, reinforcers are delivered only AFTER person COMPLETES the behaviour and specifically to increase the future occurrence of that behaviour, such as ‘You finish your homework nicely, you can have candy.’ Reinforcers such as food and toys are particularly important for a young learner that does not have intrinsic motivation to do an activity or language skills to request for certain items. This may be used at the start of ABA therapy but therapists will start pairing the food or toys with more natural reinforcers such as social praise over time and the use of food and toys will naturally be reduced.
  • Myth 3: ABA uses physical punishment

    NO! ABA therapy programs do not use physical punishment. ‘Punishment’ in ABA language simply means the opposite of ‘reinforcement’, which is strategies to decrease a behaviour such as ignoring a child when they throw tantrum or engage in inappropriate attention seeking behaviours. ABA therapy also requires that ALL reinforcement interventions are exhausted before considering the use of punishment procedures.
  • Myth 4: ABA therapy is only table-work

    Discrete trial training is done at the table-top to teach basic concepts. However, ABA therapy is not restricted to one environment and definitely shouldn’t be. Once basic concepts are mastered, we move onto other locations to provide the opportunity for the child to demonstrate the skills in a new setting and with other people. Incidental teaching and Naturalistic Environment Teaching is a big part of ABA therapy too. These places emphasis on learning through play or when completing certain activities.
  • Myth 5: ABA program is a one-size-fits-all program

    This is absolutely not true and in the practice of ABA, every child is different in terms of their history, family life, relationships, social skills, language skills, likes and dislikes. Therefore all children that come into ABLE have to undergo an assessment such that the therapy plan is customised to each child to work on their unique strengths and weaknesses. Their progress on programs are analysed from their data collection after every session and necessary changes to programs are then made. Our goal is to be able to find a method of learning that suits the child and also equip them with skills to adapt to other people’s teaching methods, as with school settings.