Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

A little while back I checked on my book on amazon. I like to check in on it every once in a while and see how it’s doing. Well this time I had another review! To date, my reviews had been almost all 5 stars, with one 4 star. So checking reviews had historically been very reinforcing for me. Not that day. My first bad review. There it sat, staring me in the face.

My first instinct was to just close my laptop. Just close it up. Make it go away. I took the words personally- as an attack on my own parenting. (This is in no way a behavior analytic response to a stimulus. I do know better.)

Here is a screenshot of the dreaded review.

The review states”I would never recommend this book to a friend. Even though the methods might be scientifically proven. I feel like the methods treat children like they are dogs who can be trained. I’m seriously sorry for arny child that is manipulated with these mnethods and taught to find their worth parernt’s aprproval is based on how many stickers they get (just an example). Just because these methods work doesn’t mean it’s the best for a child.”

Now- was this review about my parenting? No. Is it something new to behavior analysts? NO! These are complaints we have all heard about ABA therapy.

While I don’t think it’s super appropriate for me to respond to this reader giving their honest review, it IS appropriate for practitioners to respond to clients, other professionals, and even funding sources to defend ABA.

Side note: who thinks it’s absurd that we still have to defend behavior analysis in 2017?!So where do we start to defend the practices that decades of research have already defended?Here’s a start:

There are SO many resources out there and about a gazillion (okay, not a behavior analytic measurement) research articles that document ABA works for kids and produces socially significant outcomes.

Boom. Drop the mic.

Just kidding.Pick the mic back up. Sorry –not done yet.

I actually want to end with a few quotes from the new book “Life is a Pic/nic…when you understand behavior” by Aubrey C. Daniels & Alice D. Lattal.  As a  BCBA who speaks to parent groups and writes with parents as my intended audience, these few lines from Chapter 2 really stood out.

“They demonstrated what is called trust; that is , they had learned that there is a direct relationship between what is promised to them and what actually happens; following the rules can be expected to lead to good things.”

How many times have I needed those exact words to come out of my mouth when a mom or dad told me they were concerned that using structured behavior supports would hurt their loving relationship with their child? Trust- how else do you teach your child to trust?

“Persistence and other qualities generally valued by parents and society at large are all produced through the pattern of intermittent positive consequences one experiences…. This is the way we learn persistence and that working hard is ‘its own reward’. “

ABA works. You know this. I know this. Let’s find ways to tell the world. And let’s do it in a way that is inviting, encouraging, and easy to understand.

Daniels, A.C., & Lattal, A.D. (2017) Life’s a PIC/NIC… when you understand behavior. Cornwall on Hudson, NY: Sloan Publishing.

Dunne, J.D. (2002). Behavior analysis: No defense required. Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education, 1(6), 1-13.

Walsh, M. B. (2011). The Top 10 Reasons Children With Autism Deserve ABA. Behavior Analysis in Practice4(1), 72–79.