A challenge to ABA therapists

1 Show me the numbers

I am trying to get to the bottom of this controversy. You claim that the science shows that ABA works? Please show the evidence. Comments on this blog will be accepted, though abuse will be redacted.

But I need decent science, which means a decent sample in the research. Autism research has been dogged by poor sample sizes, most notorious the link proposed by Andrew Wakefield and his team in 1998 which proposed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in children despite a sample size of n = 12 and no control. Repeats of Wakefield’s experiment have shown there is no connection.

If you are so sure the science us on your side please show the numbers.

The evidence I am pointing to I found in August this year on Twitter.

This data, with a large sample of n = almost 16,000 shows little or no benefit from ABA therapy. However that is only one study. I would love to be able to compare it to other data, with significant sample sizes. Can you provide it please?

Here’s another report worth looking at, from https://therapistndc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/TRICARE-Autism-Report_.pdf

The conclusion says:

Based on this reporting quarter outcome measures data, the majority of TRICARE beneficiaries (76 percent –parent form) had little to no change in symptom presentation over the course of 12 months ofABA services, with an additional nine percent demonstrating worsening symptoms.
Additionally, the 42 percent discrepancy in responses between parents and teacher/BCBA (Figure 3 and 4) is also of note, suggesting DHA should continue to explore the possible reasons for the wide range in perceptions of symptom presentation. Further analysis is required to observe trends and utility. While it is concerning that 76 percent of the population saw little tono change, the DHA via the MCSCs will work with the providers to ensure effective treatment is being delivered.

The graphs referred to are on pages 10 and 11 of the report.

Now I know your claims are that there is data that proves that ABA works, but often the websites making those claims do not show data to support the claims. all I am looking for are actual answers.


2 Why the cost?

This question is specifically to ABA practitioners in the USA. I found this about US costs.

In general, ABA therapy costs in the range of $120 for a one-hour session. Most insurance plans will cover this therapy, so the cost can largely be offset by insurance coverage. This means your out-of-pocket expenses will be greatly reduced.

So I compared this private costs here in the UK. Practitioners are advertising between £10 to £45 per hour. The £10 was from someone with one years experience. Experienced practitioners charge from between £25 to £45. £45 is a little under $60 US at today’s exchange rate. ABA can be offered free in the UK too, often through the local authority.

Why does treatment (if it works, see above) cost twice as much in the USA?

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