Why Caregivers Discontinue Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Choose Communication-Based Autism Interventions

Figure 1: Percentage of PTSS by autism intervention

Percentage of PTSS by Autism Intervention: The x-axis represents the interventions per bar column, and containing values of PTSS instances per intervention group. The y-axis represents the scaled incidence per group, with 42% in the ABA group containing the highest relative prevalence. Those who received no intervention at all (“none”) experienced the lowest prevalence of PTSS (17%), compared to the ABA group. This difference in proportion was the most statistically significant between all groups, χ2(1)= 22.87, p <.001.

The objective of this study was to explore why autistic people and their caregivers chose interventions other than Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and how their decision impacts them over their lifespan. The focus group was divided into those who pursued augmentative and alternative communication (AACs) based supports, those who received ABA, those who selected other interventions, and those who received no intervention at all. The reported posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) of ABA recipients were compared to non-ABA recipients in order to evaluate the long-term impacts of all intervention types. Using a mixed-method thematic analysis, optional comments submitted alongside a quantitative online survey were reviewed for emergent themes. These comments augmented the survey Likert scores with a qualitative impression of the diverse intervention-related attitudes among participants. Investigating the lived experiences of autism intervention recipients illuminated the scope of the long term impacts of each intervention that was chosen. Overall, autistics who received no intervention fared best, reporting the least severe posttraumatic stress symptoms. These findings may inform the potential redesign of autism interventions, and posttraumatic stress symptom assessments, based on the firsthand reported experiences and opinions of autistics.

Keywords: Autism, intervention, therapy, Applied Behaviour Analysis, communication, support

Also Read Research Study: Correlation between PTSD and ABA: Parents tend to continue ABA despite lack of satisfaction with the intervention. Evidence of Increased PTSD Symptoms in Autistics Exposed to Applied Behavior Analysis Kupferstein, H. (2018) Evidence of Increased PTSD Symptoms in Autistics Exposed to Applied Behavior Analysis. Advances in Autism, 1(1), 19-29. DOI :10.1108/AIA-08-2017-0016 [PDF]

APA Citation:

Kupferstein, H. (2019) Why caregivers discontinue applied behavior analysis (ABA) and choose communication-based autism interventions. Advances in Autism. doi: 10.1108/AIA-02-2019-0004

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