ABA: What does the research say? 

ABA – What does the research say?

ABA: What does the research say? 

ABAers love to brush off any concerns with “ABA is effective” or “ABA is evidence-based”. But according to a 2020 report by the US Department of Defense, this is not the case. 

The two-year study included 3794 participants who had received at least 18 months of ABA services. This makes it not only the largest study on the effectiveness of ABA, but also the *only* large-scale test of ABA. The number of hours of ABA did not increase its effectiveness. In some subgroups, the more ABA “therapy” the child received, the worse the outcome was. This is of course measuring Autistic children’s behaviour against goals that ABA claims to achieve, not goals Autistic people would agree with. ABA has terrible goals. It wants to make Autistic children comply with neurotypical standards. And it’s not even good at that.

Find more information by the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective here :

You can read the full report here

But what about the countless previous studies that support ABA? 

Well. It turns out that there are very few that are actually up to standard. Most use single-case studies (we call them anecdotes) and are biased in multiple ways (playing “telephone” by having 3rd parties report ‘success’). 

For more, see this 2020 research review and if you find it hard to read, Alfie Kohn puts it in simpler terms here .

But it gets worse. 

Not only is there NO evidence that ABA works – there is evidence that ABA causes long-term harm, even PTSD: 

According to a study with 460 respondents, nearly half of those who had been exposed to ABA met the diagnostic threshold for PTSD. Of that subgroup, nearly half were severely affected. Respondents of all ages who were exposed to ABA were 86 per cent more likely to meet the PTSD criteria than respondents who were not exposed to ABA. 

Read Evidence of increased PTSD symptoms in Autistics exposed to ABA:

The painful truth is: 

Colleges and universities still teach and research ABA. 

Clinicians, parent groups, and charities still recommend ABA as the “gold standard” of “autism therapy”. 

Neurodivergent children and adults still suffer irreversible harm, in Ireland and across the globe, every day, in 2022. 

ABA is a lucrative scam. The US Department of Defense spent over $1.5 BILLION on ABA services over the 5 years prior to the study referenced above. Imagine using this kind of money to actually support Autistic families!

We are up against a major force. A multi-billion dollar industry with enormous marketing and lobbying resources. But we can’t remain silent. We have to do our part. For all survivors and potential victims of ABA. 

So what can we do? 

Listen to neuro-affirming research. Listen to Autistic people. Listen to ABA survivors.

Learn, learn, learn, and learn some more.


Speak up.

Walk out.

Do the opposite of what ABA teaches: Don’t comply.

Learn from AUsome Training

Please sign this petition to let Minister Rabbitte know that this can’t go on:

Please share information about the harms of ABA: Research, Autistic voices, and especially survivors’ stories. Here’s a great list with resources

We need to get this knowledge out to parents, educators, ministers, and clinicians.

We need numbers.

Only if enough of us refuse to buy into the lies can we end the abuse.

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