Talk:Applied behavior analysis

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self-control(behavior analysis)[edit]

I'm going to split the self-control listing into self-control(behavior analysis) which I'd like to link back to this back as a sub-topic.

-F — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:00, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

Article poorly written[edit]

The writing in this article is chaotic. It's not helping the cause of Behaviorism much to have things explained so poorly (read B.F. Skinner to see how to write concisely). It's also too long and verbose. You could cut it by 1/3 to 1/2 to good effect. But somebody has to do it who knows how to write & punctuate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:22, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

The intro is impenetrable for a layman and is narrow in scope. The intro explains (poorly) only a part of ABA instead of it's broader empirical goals. It is also full of jargon. Please don't tell me to rewrite the intro. I tried, and my changes were reverted (probably by someone who doesn't even know what ABA is) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:04, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

I gave the intro another shot. Of course, my change was reverted back to the crappy original intro for no specific reason in 30 seconds. What is the point of editing if some grammar snob is going to revert your edit for putting a comma where there should be a semicolon? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:21, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

No, it was spelling the possessive pronoun as "it's" and changing "into" into "in"—"into" is correct when it's an action (citing New Oxford American Dictionary 2 edition 1995); nothing to do with semi-colons. Having elementary grammatical errors in the lead demeans the whole article. That said, your second try was much better. --Old Moonraker (talk) 08:45, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

That is absolutely ridiculous. So I get a vandalism warning for a minor typo? Isn't it easier to just change the minor typo instead of reverting and issuing me a vandalism warning? Are you guys serious? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:52, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

No user warning from me. My revert was because it (your first attempt) was worse than the stuff it replaced. --Old Moonraker (talk) 08:57, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

Well, I got a warning from some random guy. He justified it with vague references to "Wikipedia Policy". But I have changed my mind about the current intro. I think it barely makes sense at all, but better to have a grammatically perfect intro than a factually perfect one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:06, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

Says the guy with 135 IQ and a psych degree, after puzzling over this jargon-laden free-association: "So it's B-mod, right?" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:52, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

This article is hard to understand, for a layperson. There is a ton of jargon. Wikipedia is usually much easier for a layperson to understand. This article is written for professionals. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gclose11 (talkcontribs) 18:52, 2 March 2018 (UTC)

I think this article should be in simple official language Tanaya Aaditya Samdurkar (talk) 15:37, 14 April 2018 (UTC)


Contents of talk page archived on 17:37, 23 July 2007 (UTC), any issues not addressed should be brought out of the archive and pasted to this page. WLU 17:37, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Usage of Term "Child"[edit]

In the main body of the text, the term "child" is used repeatedly. It would be more appropriate to use the term "student" as many service recipients are adults. 00:59, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

The above comments were moved over from the ABA mediation page - that was the wrong place to put them. WLU 15:18, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I would tend to agree. According to ABA theory, this methodology should work on any person, adult or child. Technically, it would even work on intelligent animals, too. ;)
I vote to change occurrances of 'child' to "student" or "person" or another compatible word. Archfool 15:37, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
My apologies for archiving that prematurely, your suggested changes appear fine to me, so I say go ahead. WLU 18:44, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I hope I am not too late- as a Behaviour Analyst working 24/7 with Autistics I am not comfortable with child or student. Not all autistics are children, and not all therapy is in a tutor/student model (even within ABA). "Behind the scenes" we [members of the therapy team] usually refer to people we are working with as 'clients' as this conveys that we are working FOR them, and has no connotations of age/method bias.

"Person" is too much of an attempt at polical correctness, so much so that it is inaccurate. We are referring to persons who are receiving Applied Behaviour Analysis intervention, so using the label "person" does not retain this meaning. I suggest "client" as being appropriate, as it: 1) Conveys that we are working FOR or WITH the individual. 2) Is not biased towards their age or the school/methodology of ABA such as "child" or "student/pupil" would be. 3) The professional/academic designation and the in-person descriptor are not identical. While we would refer to XX as a client to other professional/para-professionals, to the person or the parent it is usually "Billy" or "Beanhead" or another organically occurring social name. So- the designation of the receiver of therapy need only be accurate within the professional context, and appropriate within the personal/social context. -Drew ( Clin.Psych./Behaviour Analyst working full-time with Autistics ) Plutophanes 11 November 2009 —Preceding undated comment added 19:08, 11 November 2009 (UTC).

I think the word individual or person is suitable in the place of children Tanaya Aaditya Samdurkar (talk) 15:35, 14 April 2018 (UTC)

proving ABA is the only proven treatment[edit]

I'm not convinced ABA is the most common method for treating autism. Parents often have to sue districts in order to receive the expensive, intensive programs. It would be interesting to see a breakdown on how service is delivered.

The claim that ABA is the only scientically proven treatment for autism seems to be a common one among behaviorists, but I'm not convinced. I'm sure speech therapists, OTs and PTs have some research that backs their practices, excluding the sensory integration and facilitated communication controversies. Practices like Picture Exchange Systems, Social Stories, inclusion, and incidental teaching shouldn't be dismissed either.

As to the evidence that ABA is the only proven treatment, no one has been able to reproduce the amazing results of the 1987 Lovaas study. I read the Smith & Wynn article shortly after it came out around 2000, and remember the results weren't as dramatic as the original Lovaas group.

Perhaps there's a literature survey that crowns ABA as the only proven treatment. However, the McConachie and Diggle article from 2006 states that very few studies on ABA interventions with autism have adequate research design, and calls for further, improved research. Jwharhar 03:41, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

Jwharhar, were you editing your comments as an anon IP? If so, please don't, I don't know if I should be reverting the changes as vandalism or inappropriate. Anyway, read through the archived comments on the proof, and note that anything regards this needs to be verifiable and come from reliable sources, integrated into the research in such a way that it is not original research. Even if results were not as dramatic as Lovaas, it's still scientific proof, and I have not seen any scientific proof of any other treatment working. If you can find it, post it and we can modify the ABA page accordingly. There's nothing wrong with making the page accurate regards 'only' versus 'one of' if it's reliably sourced. WLU 18:47, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

I don't think there is any reliable scientific proof that any method, including ABA, can claim to bring about autistic "recovery" or "cure." My concern is how some sites and advocates promote ABA as THE only option for autism that has any credibility. This is a prickly point for me since I was in special ed. for almost 20 years. I worked with parents who paid people to wave their hands over their son to affect his energy, another who took her kid to a televangelist, another who went barefoot for weeks so God would end her daughter's seizures. As an assistant, I was supposed to help one boy communicate by holding his wrist or elbow while he typed messages at a computer, and as a teacher I was instructed by an OT to put a heavy vest on a child regularly, while other students' IEPs required students to be brushed and listen to special sounds on headphones. Does ABA have a better research base than these procedures? Sure. Does that mean that the only person at an IEP meeting with anything to offer that is scientific is the behaviorist the family has brought in so their child with autism can go to his ABA program for $65,000 a year?

When people bring up ABA as a treatment for autism, they're not talking about having teachers fill out ABC sheets or make sure a schedule of reward or punishment is followed. The debate raging about ABA is a result of that first Lovaas study where about half the experimental group became "normal functioning," which was maybe 5 kids. Has their been enough evidence since then to tell parents of children with autism to all get lawyers, quit their jobs, sell their homes, and start intensively training their child 7 days a week, 8 hours a day? In my judgement, the research on Lovaas style early intervention isn't good enough, especially for older students who do not fall in the mild to moderate range. Obviously, I don't think one sentence in Wikipedia is going to bankrupt parents, but this is an emotional and complicated issue. There needs to be more research on ABA as well as at least one comparative study done to support behaviorist claims that spending tens of thousands of dollars on intensive 1:1 therapy is the only valid option for families dealing with autism. Jwharhar 13:47, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Please read the archive and look at the references included in the page, they are the basis from which the article can say the method is proven. I've heard about the swimming with dolphins, the weighted vests, the special diets and chelation therapy. They are unproven. ABA has multiple scientific trials in which improvements are noted - as far as science can say, it is a proven method for increasing the functional abilities of children with autism. Due to the nature of scientific progress, it's not definitive or for all time but it's the only one that has reports in scientific journals, the gold standards for proof on wikipedia. Please look in the archive and at the references, and read WP:V, WP:RS and WP:NPOV policies, then post what you think. It is verifiable, even if it is not true. WLU 20:56, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

OK, I'll acknowledge the point that ABA has 20 years worth of research on interventions with autism, more than any other method to date, and that increases in IQ scores have been documented. While ABA methods are probably common, I still can't see how ABA intensive interventions for autism can be considered common, since a lot of families have a hard time finding someone to do it and the cost is so great. The quality and outcomes of the research still bother me, for example the summary you've linked to the Smith 2000 article acknowledges there were no differences between the intervention and non intervention groups on adaptive functioning and behavior problems. Jwharhar 02:53, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia reports verifiability, not truth. We don't determine if ABA is the best or an actual cure, we only report what others have said about it. And others have said that it's the only methodology proven to improve functioning. And the Smith article does document increases to intelligence, visual-spatial skills, language, and academics. WLU 05:38, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

By that logic, we should put "Christianity/Islam/Judaïsm/etc... is the only true faith" on just about every religious article. Why? Because (especially for Christianity) so many people can't be wrong, can they? Problem is: they ARE wrong, as far as Wikipedia is concerned. So long as the only people who claim that ABA is the only treatment works for Autism are it's proponents, it is not verified by any real sense of the word. Also, and this is the Autist in me speaking, the Wikipedia policy of "verifiability, not truth" is an oxymoron. To verify means (and I quote the Wictionary here): "To substantiate or prove the truth of something". You can't verify something if it isn't true. My opinion is that ABA cannot be treatment for Autism for the same reason why electro-shock therapy isn't a treatment for homosexuality: Neither Autism not Homosexuality are actual illnesses, mental or otherwise. In the past Homosexuality WAS seen as a mental illness, in the past Wikipedia would have stated it was a mental illness. In the past, Wikipedia would have been wrong about this, despite what all the authorities of the time said about it. But since Wikipedia doesn't deal in opinions, let me just say this: taking statements made purely by proponents of something and claiming they are verified is a violation of WP:Neutrality. Therefore, I am removing the words 'only proven' and replacing them with 'a'. Don't change it back until you can prove that a non-proponent of ABA has conclusively proven that ABA works. Robrecht 00:40, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

As a "proponent" of ABA, I am wondering if we now have to cite sources attempting to disprove gravity if some minority disagrees with it. It seems that peoples' acceptance of ABA as a science has been controvercial(sometimes at best). Regardless, there is one thing that seems to hold any science together. Replications. Just as newton's laws would be considered rubbish if no replications showed the same results, the same would go for behavior analysis. It is interesting how few peer reviewed articles with at least decent design are available in other fields of psychology. I can't begin to know what the general beef is with ABA, but chemistry journals are reviewed by chemists, physics journals by physicists, and behavior analysis journals are reviewed by behavior analysts and so on. It is very possible, if you were willing to be trained in data collection, for you to give us an "unbiased" frequency of hits, kicks, or correct items on test. Most likely, the "biased" behavior analyst will have the same or very similar observation as you. Unfortunately, no other field of psychology assesses themselves in this manner. If that were so, we would have a much thorough knowledge of how people behave.

The "opponent" of ABA writing on this page is arguing that there needs to be the allowance for other views about what ABA is and how effective it is. I challenge them to do so using peer reviewed research as a tool to disprove ABA instead of individual "opinion". Any robust science has no problem with attempts at its disproval. It is no more rediculous to judge the validity of research in ABA than in Physics, Chemistry, or other more accepted sciences except for that there are fewer replications in ABA than the more "grounded" sciences. We are making replications though. Statisticians will tell you that the use of single case subject design as a common evaluation method assessing our research is a very useful tool. If you don't believe them, ask them how much money they make looking at numbers and finding meaningful relationships/predictions with them(last time I checked, those were commonly accepted methods of quantifying things). As far as religion goes, the real problem with anything deemed religious fact is that it is subjective (using the 5 senses)and for the most part conveniently undisprovable because of this. Anyone can argue for or against having supernatural power, but test that with a good design and procedure and i'm sure there will not be Peer review, as the "proponent" stated, seems to be a few steps up from this subjectivity. Just as everyone explains gravity as something going from up to down, behavior analysts explain behavior in the form of objective observations and can describe their observations quantitatively.

Autism, you say is just as made up as homosexuality as far as mental illness is concerned. Well, behavior analysts do not determine treatment options based specific to diagnosis. We look at behavior (what to increase and what to decrease) keeping diagnoses in mind. On another note, I agree that autism isn't an illness, though generally people diagnosed with autism are considered a problem. Not to anyone autistic, but to people who don't know how to work with them correctly. It is tragic how people have treated people deemed mentally impaired in the past, and what they will do sometimes to escape the experience. Behavior analysts are, however, working very hard to lessen stress by training parents, teachers, and kids ways to make life easier for everyone.

As far as the "only proven" vs. "A proven", I agree with the "opponent" that there may be other ways and not necessarily used by behavior analysts. The problem is that either noone knows about them, they haven't been researched adequately, or they may be unethical. We'll see what happens though with future research. 01:00, 17 September 2007 (UTC)BAiT199.17.30.76 01:00, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

References improve pages, and challenged information must be justified. The rest of your statement is too long to read. WLU 19:24, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

...As a parent of a child on the spectrum and someone well versed in surveying study results, I was struck that the section on Autism vastly understates the unknowns about this therapy. There is no balanced discussion about the times it is not effective. And the list of studies appear to build off of each other rather than build with new studies. In my experience that is a significant red flag. Especially given what's hidden at the end which is, essentially, all authors agree we don't know enough. The article list should start with the reality that we don't have conclusive answers on ABA therapy and Autism.

To be frank, I find that studies in areas like are far too often funded by those (or conducted ny those) who stand to profit from a positive result (in this case those who get paid to do these therapies). The way this section is written suggests this is a MAJOR concern with these studies.

Citations in violation of WP: UNDUE and WP:V[edit]

Many of the citations used in this article are in violation of WP:UNDUE and WP:V.

They take material published by proponents of ABA and treat their opinions as unbiased fact.

The whole article is also in violation of WP:NPOV, because it treats the opinions of one minority (the proponents of ABA) as more important than the opinions of another minority (Autists and the Autist right movement). This is based on supposed 'authority' on the side of the proponents, but this is unfactual as said proponents are a biased source. The proponents of ABA are not reliable sources for the EFFECTIVENESS of ABA any more than Adolf Eichmann is for the justifiability of the Endlösung... (Or Godwin is for the application of Godwin's corrolary :P).

the proponents of aba are not asserting their position from authority but from peer reviewed journals. That these proponents assert their collective scientific credibility is true, so if you want to destroy them in one fell swoop don't compare them to nazis but find credible published sources who say that JEAB & JABA et al are all a bunch of lies, self-serving propaganda, etc. However, PubMed Central is now the current archive for JEAB & JABA so you might also want to explain how PMC got 'fooled' into archiving this pack of lies btw. Michaelrayw2 (talk) 06:38, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Unless there are reliable, unbiased sources who confirm that ABA is viable, this article needs a serious rewrite. Robrecht 01:21, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Scientific sources are the most reliable available. From WP:RS:

In general, the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers. As a rule of thumb, the greater the degree of scrutiny involved in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the evidence and arguments of a particular work, the more reliable it is. Academic and peer-reviewed publications are highly valued and usually the most reliable sources in areas where they are available, such as history, medicine and science. Material from reliable non-academic sources may also be used in these areas, particularly if they are respected mainstream publications. The appropriateness of any source always depends on the context. Where there is disagreement between sources, their views should be clearly attributed in the text.

You can't get more reliable than peer-reviewed journals. Wikipedia does discuss minority points of view and the autism rights movement, but you have to provide reliable sources for them. You can't use logic, that's original research. Read through the archives for past discussions. Researchers would get just as much, if not more credit for disproving ABA as they would for proving it. The entire establishment of science is based on an attempt to remove bias, that's the purpose of peer review and replication of results. This discussion has occurred before, at least twice at this point. Please read through the archives. I have reverted your change to the main page - sciences and scientific testing has shown ABA to be the only proven method. If you have found other methods of treating autism that are proven and reported in peer-reviewed journals, cite them. Until then, ABA is the only proven method. The citations on the page discuss proof of ABA working, not its frequency. By altering the text as you did, you are making the article less accurate and the references do not support the interpretation you have provided. WLU 11:41, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
You can in fact get more reliable than peer-reviewed journals. The next level is peer-reviewed studies by unbiased researchers in peer-reviewed journals. This whole matter of "treating" autism is further evidence of bias. The unbiased language would involve "changing [type of] behaviors associated with autism." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Svendlarose (talkcontribs) 01:06, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
WP:UNDUE says:

NPOV says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each. Now an important qualification: Articles that compare views should not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more popular views, and may not include tiny-minority views at all.

There are no comparable sources for the minority viewpoint that I've found. If you've found them, post them on the main or talk page, as a minority viewpoint. However, their existense as a minority viewpoint does not disprove the peer reviewed journals' discussions of proof. There is a criticisms section already, it can be expanded with reliable sources, but nothing can remove the proof of the scientific sources except other scientific sources or a newspaper article discussing how the researchers faked their results.
Scientific sources by their nature can not violate WP:UNDUE or WP:V. If you don't believe me, put in a request for comment, ask for a WP:3O or find some [[[WP:RS|reliable sources]] for the other viewpoints. The autism rights movement have their own entry in the criticisms section, several unsourced statements and a {{main}} link. Don't argue from logic, seek sources. The ARM may contest the ethical aspects of ABA, but until they have scientific proof that it is ineffective at teaching language, eye contact, motor skills and the other measures used to assess functioning. For those aspects of autism, ABA is proven. WLU 11:57, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Nevertheless, a peer reviewed journal is NOT reliable if all these peers are biased. This is not a use of logic, it is Wikipedia policy, as stated in the debates revolving around Creationism. References such as the Journal for ABA may be used as a source for the implementation and particulars of ABA, but not for it's effectiveness.
I don't follow this point. There are several scientific journal references for the effectiveness of ABA. Most of the references in this article are not JABA citations. For example, Howard et al. 2005 (PMID 15766629) is a fine research article supporting the use of ABA to treat autism, and was published in Research in Developmental Disabilities, a high-quality peer-reviewed journal that is not devoted to ABA. Eubulides 04:10, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
You will have to find an unbiased source to back this up. Until you do, I am once again removing the 'only proven' line from the article. Do not revert again until you find such a source. And that's final. Robrecht 00:08, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
As aditional points:
Claiming that ABA is the only proven treatment for Autism is unencyclopedic. You cannot put this in the article, unless you can conclusively prove that not a single other treatment for Autism is claimed to be proven in another peer reviewed journal. Again the burden of proof is on you: Find such conclusive proof in an unbiased source or the word 'only' is not admissable in this article. And to be honest you can't conclusively prove that it is the only proven treatment for Autism.
The use of 'only proven' in this article is either a weasel term or a Peacock term. The line 'only proven' does not clarify what about it is proven to be (Is it proven to exist? Proven to be effective, or ineffective?). More over, the word only serves to lend false and undue importance. Even if it is the only treatment that has been proven to work, this is not a notable fact. Just in the same way that 'B.A. Baracus is the only black member of the A-team' is not a notable fact. Unless ABA is somehow famous, exceptional or in some other way notable for being the only method proven to be effective in the treatment of Autism, this statement does not belong in the article.
ABA has the best-supported record in the literature, in the sense that more high-quality scientific studies support the use of ABA to treat autism than support any other method. I agree that the phrase only proven by itself is too strong, since the relative success of ABA needs to be placed into context. However, it would also be a mistake not to mention that ABA is well ahead of its competition in terms of having scientific support. Eubulides 04:10, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
The following is not a threat, but something for you to think about: you are WikiLawyering in order to unfairly and unfactually keep this page unencyclopedic, merely because you are, apparently, a proponent of ABA. If you continue this, I will contact a Wikipedia staff member in order to discuss with them whether your actions constitute vandalism. Robrecht 00:54, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
That sure sounds like a threat to me. Please stay cool. Eubulides 04:10, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Gender/Homosexuality Section[edit]

I'm not trying to cause trouble and would not object to this comment being removed if an authority deemed that it will cause trouble. The Gender section appears to me to be largely unrelated to the subject of this article. I hope there is a home for it somewhere in Wikipedia where it fits better. DCDuring 17:22, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

On more careful reading, let me modify the above comment. The section seems only tangentially connected. If this was part of a larger pattern of practices in the field (which would not be surprising), it needs MORE discussion. I hope there is also some place in Wikipedia where it fits into a much more comprehensive discussion of the subject of attempting use behvioral modification techniques to modify gendered behavior and even other then-deemed-undesirable behavior. DCDuring 17:35, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

I think the section could do with a re-write perhaps, the connections are there but it's not obvious unless you are a bit more familiar with Lovaas and the history of ABA. It'd be nice to have more examples of controversial uses of ABA, that would fill out the section more and make it seem less of an orphan. WLU 23:07, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Wording of ABC section[edit]

An anon and Jturn2 have both attempted to have an altered wording in the Definition section. I put a note up on JTurn2's page on why this is a bad idea, but since the anon reverted, I'll put the note up here.

The definition section modified is a quote, so should not be changed. Regards the ABC part of the definition section, the A section, the Antecedent always preceeds the behaviour; it includes internal stimuli as well. Also, the 'behaviour of concern' sentence is incorrect as well, ABA trials can be worked to alter the antecedent as well as the bahaviour, as in the case of stimulus generalization. Finally, in the Behaviour section, it is not just socially acceptable behaviour that is modified, it can also be self-injurious, self-talk (in the case of ABA being used as psychotherapy) or virtually any other type of behaviour; though ABA is used to modify social behaviour in autistic children, it can be used with animals, adults and neurotypical individuals as well.

Further changes to the sections should be discussed rather than simply reverting. WLU 18:40, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

The changes by Jturn (or whoever) seemed like a good first step to reducing the severe pro-ABA bias of this section. (Don't try to tell me "significant improvement in human behavior" is an objective description of what ABA does.) However, as you've pointed out, the definition is a quote - from some sort of ABA society no less - so obviously the whole quote has to go.
Re: all other contentions above, I have no idea what you're talking about. (ABA "used as psychotherapy?" "Stimulus generalization?" Isn't this supposed to be comprehensible to an educated lay person?) -Anon reverter, 10 September 2007
To clarify my comment above, the only term I'm unfamiliar with is "self-talk", but I still don't understand what you're saying. I think you need to do a better job of explaining how purely behavioral methods could be used as psychotherapy. I suspect most people who have a basic knowledge of psychology would see behaviorism and psychotherapy as different, perhaps even incompatible, paradigms/approaches. Ditto for ABA being used to "alter the antecedent" (isn't the stimulus controlled by the experimenter/therapist to begin with?) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Species8471 (talkcontribs) 05:55, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
  1. It's a page about ABA, which is scientifically verified as an immensely powerful means of modifying behaviour. A 'pro-ABA' stance is warranted. What would you like to include as an 'anti-' stance?
  2. The quote for ABA is only one example. It's a good one that has stayed up for years. What would you suggest as an alternative definition? Further, most of the definitions of ABA are going to come from people who are 'pro ABA' because they are generally going to be researchers, researching ABA.
  3. Stimulus generalization
  4. You seem to have the misapprehension that ABA is solely used to treat autism. ABA is more than just autism, it is used for psychotherapy as well. Autism is just the 'highest profile' use.
  5. Behavior modification has a long history in psychotherapy and other forms of treatment for mental illness. REBT, Cognitive behavior therapy, behavior modification. Try asking at the reference desk or psychology wikiproject. ABA is an extreme example that doesn't address cognition at all, but I believe it's got some support though most therapists avoid the radical behaviourism approach these days.
  6. The experimenter/therapist can modify the antecedent. In ABA with an autistic kid, you'd say 'what's this', 'what is this', 'can you tell me what this is' and 'what would you call this' while holding up a cup. The stimulus varies in order to get the kid used to responding to multiple types and phrasings of questions. It's pretty useless to have a person or animal respond solely to a very limited set of stimuli. Stimulus generalization is usually used once a response is well-ingrained, but you want to make responding more flexible. For a dog, it's having the dog come when you say 'here boy/girl', using it's name, saying 'come here', or patting your thighs. Multiple stimuli, but the response is the same - the dog comes to you. WLU 23:02, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Read about behaviorism Jcautilli2003 (talk) 04:37, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Definition of ABA[edit]

I'd like to include a better definition -- can I just delete bad definitions and add good ones, or should I go through this talk page first? Here is what I'd like to add:

Applied Behavior Analysis: The science in which tactics derived from the principles of behavior are applied to improve socially significant behavior and experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for the improvement in behavior. -- Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007. Applied Behavior Analysis, Merril Prenitce Hall, Columbus Ohio.

Also, I'd like to include that ABA is the RESEARCH endeavour, not the treatment of anything -- that is a misnomer (from above source). I do understand, however, that it is often misused. Some thoughts on ABA can be found here: <--can this be used as a cited source...I'm not familiar with whether websites count. Please let me know how to proceed in editing this article. Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 05:07, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Make sure it's a prose summary, not a quote, use a citation template and include it in footnote tags. pubmed/isbn template generator This page will generate an automatic template with the ISBN and with the appropriate checkbox will also enclose it in ref tags. The website isn't really a reliable source that I can see (see WP:RS for more info on reliable sources). Watch about spreading that website around too freely because it can look like WP:SPAM. WLU (talk) 12:04, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Ok -- I'll start this way and see if I'm doing things correctly. I removed the sentence b/c social significance is part of ABA -- if it is not socially significant than it is not applied behavior analysis. So -- while Behavior Analysis can modify ANY behavior, applied behavior analysis must be studying something of social significance. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talkcontribs)
Please don't add commentary in the ref tags, it's for sources. They're not true footnotes like you would find in some social sciences texts. The article does represent the largest use of ABA, for autistic children for whom a lack of social skills is a significant factor. Basically you can remove anything that's unsourced at will, but keep in mind that the page should represent the field theoretically and realistically - meaning if you remove something that's true for some parts of ABA, it'd be nice if you replaced it in the relevant section. WLU (talk) 15:40, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
What do you mean by the commentary in a footnote? I didn't mean to do that if I did -- While ABA is the guiding science behind autism treatment...IT is not treatment...I'm going to delineate that (there are 4 domains of Behavior Analysis -- the philosophy, basic research, applied researc [ABA], and practice guided by the science) -- autism treatment is in the fourth domain, which Utilizes ABA, but is not ABA...this is a common misunderstanding-I'll source it too, so that it isn't just 'my opinion'Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 15:53, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Please read WP:TALK so I don't have to space your comments (you seem to be getting better though). I removed the section in this edit, and you are correct it wasn't added by you, sorry about that. I thought I knew the stable version of the page, but apparently I missed this edit whenever it occurred. I'm actually surprised by much of the contents of this page, apparently I've been lax in keeping up with the changes - I thought all the 'new' stuff (stuff that I wasn't aware of) was from you, but I was wrong. Again my apologies. Your comment about sources is heartening, that kind of thing can be added so long as it is sourced. You may want to add those four sections to the article, and re-organize the page so the current information is in the appropriate section. I'm guessing that'll mean a very long practice section, but that's not unforgivable. You could even farm it off into it's own main page if it's long enough. WLU (talk) 16:37, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
So -- I'm supposed to keep indenting to indicate that I was replying to your last post --I thought I was supposed to NOT indent while you DID indent -- I can imagine that was frustrating!Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 16:41, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

<undent>There used to be two ways - ever-increasing indents with an eventual outdent like this post, and every author taking one spacing and sticking to it (like our discussion on my talk page). Now there's only the former, apparently we're obselete. There's no perfect way, no matter what it gets confusing, but in general you always space to the right and don't interrupt pre-existing discussions (i.e. always post at the bottom). WLU (talk) 16:45, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Josh, have you had a chance yet to read WP:BOLD? Generally, assuming good faith, you should feel free to make whatever improvements necessary until/unless another editor disagrees, then you stop and discuss. Uncited text can generally be deleted if you don't trust it, cited if it's correct, and cited text you may want to take more care with when it comes to deleting. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:39, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

I am happy to see a broad spectrum of how ABA applies to other areas such as the ones mentioned! It might be useful to briefly mention its relations to other therapies (PRT, ESDM...) that use ABA as a foundation.Jesssicagarnett (talk) 20:33, 1 March 2017 (UTC)


I think that there are some weird sources -- websites of practitioners, etc...these don't seem to fit the bill of 'good'...I'd like to replace them with journals and that ok? I'm going to do it for the Antecedent/Behavior/Consequence version so you can let me know if I did it properly. Thanks! Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 16:10, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Ya, that's a holdover from me, over a year ago I believe, when I was new. Unfortunately ABA lacks a lot of reliable web resources, and I don't have ready access to full-text journals anymore. If you can replace the 'some guy's website' references with journal articles and proper text, it's definitely a huge help to the page. Journals are more useful than texts just 'cause they are easier to get full text or at least abstracts, but textbooks are also fine. The only disadvantage of paper is you have to buy the book/text/newspaper to actually get at content. Otherwise, university-level textbooks published by reliable publishing houses are a well-regarded source. Sometimes 'some guy's website' is better than no source at all, in this case I think that's a tenuous claim, and completely irrelevant if you've got real sources. WLU (talk) 16:49, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
If you could, have a look at the lead - I stole from your text on the talk page about the 4 domains and put it there, some clarification may be required. To edit the lead only and not have to deal with loading the whole page for a preview, click this link - it's basically a section edit with a 0 instead of a section number, and lets you edit the lead without having to edit the whole page. WLU (talk) 16:52, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Looks good -- I've been away from the computer the last 38 hours...but am hoping to sit down and have some quality time today :) Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 17:43, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, please do work on replacing anything that isn't an independent, secondary, reliable, peer-reviewed, refereed source. See WP:MEDRS. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:40, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

A few suggestions[edit]

Thanks, Josh.Pritchard.DBA, for taking up the job of improving this page, as it needs it. I took a brief look at the article's current state and have a few suggestions:

  • The lead needs to be rewritten to be useful to someone who does not know ABA. Currently it spends too much time delimiting ABA's boundaries and associated philosophy, and too little time saying what ABA is. Suppose you don't know anything about ABA: what's the very first thing you ought to know? That ought to be the first sentence. The first sentence shouldn't include a phrase like "includes the design, conduct, interpretation, and report of applied research"; that's not that useful, as it could be describing mechanical engineering or any of dozens of other applied fields. Other phrases that should be removed from the lead: "It informs the actions and practice of professional practitioners", "As such, it is a systematic process of studying and modifying observable behavior through a manipulation of the environment.", "Its principles are derived from extensive basic research", "It is comprised of an experimental approach", "This allows the discovery and manipulation of functional relationships"; again, all of these phrases describe mechanical engineering just as well as they describe ABA.
  • There are too many parenthetical remarks in the lead. It should get rewritten so that they are not needed.
  • More attention should be paid in the lead to the uses of ABA. Most people who read this article won't want to know just the theory; they'll also want to know what it's used for.
  • "Definition" should define ABA in its own terms; it shouldn't merely quote the definition from some other encyclopedia.
  • Under "Further reading", Steege et al. 2007 is worth reading, and integrating to the text. Schoneberger 2006 should be either integrated or deleted. Cooper et al. 2007, or something as good as it, should stay under "Further reading", unless it gets cited and moved to "Notes".
  • What in the world is the last citation (von Scheidt et al. 1992)? Is it a joke?

There's lots more where that came from, but this is a start. Eubulides (talk) 05:58, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Regards the vonS ref, I remember what it's supposed to be, a criticism of Lovaas' attempt to de-feminize the kid. Looks like the pubmed number went astray or something, I'll comment it out for now. WLU (talk) 12:24, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
Done, Eub, your attention to detail astounds me. WLU (talk) 12:25, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
I managed to track down the original reference (I don't know what the hell happened to spit that out of the template generator) and have fixed the citation. Though re-reading the abstract, it doesn't seem support the statement... I'm going to try and track it through the history of the page and see if I can figure out if it's a mis-representation, the wrong citation, or what. it's possible that the full text supports the statement while the abstract does not, unfortunately I didn't find a discussion of the article in the archive. I'll keep looking and I'm sure everyone is enthralled to know what my results will be. WLU (talk) 00:39, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
Think I found the correct citation. Found the original placement, don't know why Florke got it wrong. Fixed now. WLU (talk) 00:51, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

<undent>I am working on the lead -- I included a statement that removes the ability for it to be interpreted as mechanical engineering...I'm going to keep tweaking it --please let me know when you find it to your liking.

  • I had cited Cooper et al...and don't know what happened...I think it is one of the foremost authorities on the subject...we should be citing it over websites about autism.
  • I will soon be focusing on the 'techniques' -- I think the title should be 'technologies derived from ABA' -- again, ABA is not the practice, but the research of applied stuffs...techniques relegates it to the fourth domain (practice)...your thoughts?
  • Not sure why the 'parental relationships' area is there -- can someone explain why it is viewed as important/accurate? -- it also makes an awfully strong claim 'Behavioral analysts agree that consistency in and out of the school classroom...' --
a) I don't agree -- I think that having some inconsistencies may better prepare a person...
b) research is starting to find that treatment efficacy is still occuring despite inconsistenceies
c) where is the source to make the claim that all analysts agree with that?
d) finally -- we are not behaviorAL analysts, we're behavior analysts.

Following that is a paragraph discussing that ABA (remember -- its research, not treatment) involves a team...again, this seems patently false...the practice of ABA may involve a team -- but does not really even talk about 'maintaining parent/professional relationships' -- this may be better under a heading of 'collaboration' or something of the sort...Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 04:17, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Suggestions for the lead[edit]

Here's the the current lead, which has been edited since the above suggestions were made:

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the applied research of behavior from a natural science perspective. It is one of four domains of behavior analysis: the philosophy of behavior analysis, basic research, applied research, and practice guided by the science. ABA provides the technology for application in a wide range of settings from individuals with autism/dd to organizational improvement.

This is an improvement, but it still has problems.

  • It's a tad short for a subject this complex.
  • It contains some material that is not in the body (the "four domains" sentence, which, by the way, is probably not important enough to make the lead). Leads should merely summarize the body; they should not contain any material that is not in the body.
  • It doesn't mention important parts of the body, e.g., "Criticisms", "History", "Techniques".
  • The phrase "autism/dd" is not something ordinary readers will understand.
  • The lead still doesn't explain what ABA is. It's inferior to the definition of ABA quoted in "Definition", for example. We have to remember that the usual reader won't have a clue what ABA is. Wikipedia is not like a textbook where the reader has already made some commitment to read through the whole text (because they've bought the book, or are taking a class). Most Wikipedia readers are browsers. Many will stop after reading the 1st sentence. Most will stop after reading the lead. Everything that is crucial about ABA should be in the lead; everything that's less important should go elsewhere.
  • For examples of better leads in closely-related areas, please see Son-Rise, Floortime, Gluten-free, casein-free diet, Lovaas technique, and Relationship Development Intervention. For an example of excellent leads (why not strive for the best?), please see a featured article like Tourette syndrome or Treatment of multiple sclerosis.
  • Also, please see WP:LEAD for more good advice about leads.

Eubulides (talk) 01:33, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Eubulides, Thanks! I'm definitely not happy with it as a final lead -- I'm just interested in making it a step towards the right direction. I think the body of hte article is nowhere near comprehensive, so I'm trying to figure out how to make the lead before finishing the content area -- or should I just wait? I did the autism/dd for myself and forgot to fix it before finishing --oops. Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 02:46, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
When reworking an article I often find it advantageous to rewrite the lead first so that it's a precis of what I want the body to look like. Then I rewrite the body. Then I go back and rework the lead so that it accurately summarizes the body. I guess I was assuming that you were taking that approach; if so, the lead has the problems mentioned above. If you're taking a different approach then you can discount the remarks somewhat. Eubulides (talk) 04:48, 23 December 2007 (UTC)


There is a nice contribution by an anon user -- its formatting is horrid -- but I'm going to work on that when I return -- please don't revert, but rather, look to fix the formatting! Thanks :) Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 05:20, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

ok, will leave that alone (hope I didn't already nuke it :-) For history articles, see History of Tourette syndrome and History of Asperger syndrome. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:42, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

ABA -- Application[edit]

I'm not sure that the service delivery models section is accurate...I am unfamiliar with those arenas, but if they're not from a behavior analytic perspective, they're violating the seven dimensions -- and they may be behavioral, but they're not ABA and don't belong on this article. Anyone can help with this?Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 06:16, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Service delivery models are relevant to this article. ABA-based treatments are useless in practice if there isn't a well-maintained model for delivering them to the people in need. That being said, that section seems stale: almost all the references are over 20 years old. Also, it seems too long for the article. Can you get access to some newer sources? Perhaps Cooper et al. 2007 say something about it. If not, you might look at:
  • Jacobson JW, Mulick JA (2000). "System and cost research issues in treatments for people with autistic disorders". J Autism Dev Disord. 30 (6): 585–93. doi:10.1023/A:1005691411255. PMID 11261469.
  • Harris SL, Delmolino L (2002). "Applied behavior analysis: its application in the treatment of autism and related disorders in young children". Infants & Young Children. 14 (3): 11–7.
  • LaVigna GW, Christian L, Willis TJ (2005). "Developing behavioural services to meet defined standards within a national system of specialist education services". Pediatr Rehabil. 8 (2): 144–55. doi:10.1080/13638490400024036. PMID 16089255.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
Eubulides (talk) 07:41, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
Sorry -- I didn't clearly state my question: are the areas such as behavioral coaching, behavior therapy, etc... ok to be here? I don't think so from my very limited knowledge of them...I do agree that application should be included in the article. Cooper (07) discusses the application of behavior analysis, but not in respect to the coaching, therapy, etc...what are your thoughts?Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 08:01, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
Behavioral coaching and behavioral counseling are out of date and can be omitted here. A brief mention should be put into the "History" section, though. This is another cue that the "Service delivery models" section is stale. Eubulides (talk) 08:30, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
There is an anon user updating the SD Models section...I'm currently going ot read some of hte cited literature to determine if it fits into ABA or should be in behaviorism...Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 21:18, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Citation format[edit]

This change to "Further reading" introduced an error: it gave Cooper's name as "Cooper, John Charles" but Cooper's middle initial is "O". This raises a couple of other points related to citation formats.

First, let's stick to medical citation format as used in Pubmed: author names separated by commas (not semicolons), no commas or periods within author names, initials only, Pubmed-style journal abbreviations (no periods), page ranges with leading redundant digits removed in the upper bound.

Second, when referring to a book, don't just give the book title, as that's not sufficient for someone to check the citation. Give page ranges or at least the chapter title. When a book gets cited a lot, put it in "Further reading" and then give just the last name, brief title, and page range. I just now changed it to use this style, leaving question marks where stuff needs to be filled in.

Eubulides (talk) 08:27, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

I updated the page there a way to fix one, and it'll update ALL the references (ie: update the reference list but still have all the numbers throughout point to it?)Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 10:24, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
Each such citation should use different page numbers, appropriate just for that particular citation. For example, the first one, the citation for the definition of ABA, should probably be to the single page of Cooper et al. that define ABA. The second one, which says that Baer et al. 1968 is the standard description, should cite the single page of Cooper et al. that says that. And so forth. Eubulides (talk) 06:49, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
Ok -- citations w/Page Numbers...I restructured the heading/subheadings a little, too.Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 16:35, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

New page -- moved some stuff[edit]

Ok - I started a new page: Professional practice of behavior analysis where the discussion of what types of things behavior analysts do, how to deliver services, you guys agree?Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 00:03, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

-I agree--Not sure why you need so much reassurence? J.C. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:56, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Not reassurance...but I do want to make sure I have consensus. Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 20:07, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Citation format again[edit]

A few style comments about citation format. None of this stuff is required for Wikipedia, but consistency would be nice.

  • When an article is freely readable, please add a URL for it. If it's PDF, say so (e.g., "|format=PDF" with templates). For example, all articles in The Behavior Analyst Today should have URLs.
  • Let's use Pubmed style for author names, that is, "Bush GW" instead of "Bush, G.W.". That's simpler. In "cite journal" just use "|author= Bush GW, Cheney RB" instead of fiddling with the "last" and "coauthor" parameters.
  • Lower-case article titles, upper-case book and journal titles.
  • Standard Pubmed abbreviations for journal titles.
  • Standard Pubmed style for page ranges, namely, omit leading digits in the second number in a page range when they are redundant. For example, "pages=123–45" instead of "pages=123–145".
  • Use an endash and not a hyphen within ranges, e.g., "pages=123–45" instead of "pages=123-45".
  • I prefer templates like "cite journal".
  • Use "pages=" not "page=", since only the former is documented.

I made some changes along these lines but a good many other references could also be changed in this way. Eubulides (talk) 06:12, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Behaviour as a subject[edit]

Some suggestions for this section:

Antecedent(s): refers to the multiple factors that contribute to the situation preceding the behaviour. They provide the occasion for the behaviour to occur, but do not neccessarily make the behaviour occur.

Behaviour: there should be some discussion here about defining behaviour. Defining behaviour is an important step in ABA in that it makes it possible to collect data. I would probably place behaviour first in this section. Start with the importance of defining behaviour, and then get into antecedents and consequences (positive and negative). Then, speak to an ABC analysis.

Definition of behaviour could be somehting like, "Behaviour: any observable and measurable act of an individual (also called a response)" (Alberto, P.A. & Troutman, A.C. (2006). Applied Behavior Analysis for Teachers (7th Ed.). Columbus, Ohio: Pearson Merrell Prentice Hall Behavior as a subject)

Consequences: refer to the many factors that occur after a behaviour. When using consequences as a way to influence behaviour, consequences can be positive or negative depending on whether the desired result is to increase or decrease the target behaviour.

An ABC analysis: is a method of collecting data related to a specific behaviour to see what are the maintaining factors in the environment. (I could go into more detail if you think this is a beneficial piece of information). Once data is collected regarding a specific behavour, a functional behaviour assessment can be done in order to form a hypothesis regarding the function of the behaviour.

I also am thinking that a more detailed description of Consequences may be beneficial. For example including Positive and Negative Reinforcement, and Punishment.

I am happy to work on this with you if you would like. --Svernon (talk) 02:58, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

I think that the reinforcement stuff is stated pretty nicely under the section on behaviorism. Should it be repeated here or maybe just linked? Jcautilli2003 (talk) 04:40, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

I, too, was thinking that reinforcement had to be mentioned somewhere. I placed it before 'thinning' as this seems like a natural place to put it. There is a whole page on reinforcement, so, I put some introductory material and then hyperlinked the page. Let me know if you think anything else is missing. I am currently writing a section to be added here around ABA procedures- ie discrete trial, incidental teaching, etc.--Svernon (talk) 03:50, 21 February 2008 (UTC)


When defining prompting, I probably would not start with "The parent or therapist", since prompts can be naturally occuring, and environmental prompts.

Defining prompts, "A prompt is a cue or assistance to encourage the desired response from the student"

Prompts are often categorized into a prompt hierarchy from most intrusive to least intrusive. There is some controversy about what is considered most intrusive: physically intrusive versus hardest prompt to fade (ie verbal). In an errorless learning approach, prompts are given in a most-to-least sequence and faded systematically to ensure the student experiences a high level of success. A least-to-most method is preferred with some students who... (not sure how to finish this sentence. But, I think it is important to speak to both most-to-least, and least-to-most when describing prompting, as it is a more balanced view).

I agree with what you wrote about prompt fading, but this term should probably be used. I made some adjustments to what you wrote...I am open to more revisions.

"Prompts are faded systematically and as quickly as possible to avoid prompt dependency. The goal of teaching using prompts would be to fade prompts towards independence, so that no prompts are needed for the student to perform the desired behaviour"

Types of prompts:

Verbal prompts: Utilizing a vocalization to indicate the desired response. Ex: Saying "Take the toothpaste cap off" (Should be avoided when possible as verbal prompts are the hardest to fade);[citation needed]
I would add to this that it is appropriate to use a verbal prompt when teaching an expressive skill or functional language such as "Hello, Mrs. Smith" versus "Do you see Mrs. Smith?" to elicit a greeting.

Visual Prompts: a visual cue or picture. Ex. a picture schedule of toothbrushing or a picture of taking off the toothpaste

Gestural prompts: Utilizing a physical gesture to indicate the desired response. Ex: pointing at the toothpaste;

Positional prompt: the target stimulus is placed closer to the student (I think this is too technical, will need some revision).

Modeling: Modeling the desired response for the student. ex: taking the cap off to show the student how it is done.
I would suggest here to indicate that you would use this type of prompt only for students who learn through imitation and can attend to a model.

Physical prompts: Physically manipulating the student to produce the desired response. Ex: hand-over-hand manipulation of a faucet handle to begin hand-washing.
I might add the degrees of physical prompts such as a full physical prompt (ie. Hand-over-hand), versus a partial physical prompt

Since this is not an exhaustive list of possible prompts, I think it might be necessary to say just that. There are other prompts such as within-stimulus prompts, environmental prompts, etc.

I would end this discussion on prompts indicating that not all prompts need to be used in the hierarchy, but that the individual teaching would choose the prompts that are most effective for that student.--Svernon (talk) 03:29, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

I would suggest adding the categories of prompts (response prompts and stimulus prompts) and perhaps sort the types of prompts into these? Jesssicagarnett (talk) 20:38, 1 March 2017 (UTC)



Just some gramatical suggestions:

The overall goal is for an individual to eventually not need prompts. As an individual gains mastery of a skill at a particular prompt level, the prompt is faded to a less intrusive prompt. This ensures that the student does not become overly dependent on a particular prompt when learning a new behaviour or skill. For example, when learning to unscrew the toothpaste lid, you may start with physically guiding the child's hands to open the toothpaste (physical prompt), to pointing at the toothpaste (gestural prompt), then no prompt provided (independence).

Note: I ended with independence, since this was stated as the goal. As well, since it is mentioned previously to not use verbal prompts, I would not suggest using them in an example like this.

Also, I noticed that this section uses the term, "individual" & "child" and other sections are using the term "student". I have kept them the way they were, but they should probably be standardized to match the rest of the article. --Svernon (talk) 03:40, 8 February 2008 (UTC)


why I am not able to search the elements of operant conditioning.... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:07, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

I am not sure what you mean by this question. Can you explain further?--Svernon (talk) 18:40, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Move from further reading[edit]

Per Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Further_reading.2FExternal_links, the further reading section should be used for only very relevant topics, not as a holding place for potential further references - I've removed the following articles and left the remainder which appear to be relevant to the whole page. Ideally these should be included as inline citations rather than further reading. WLU (talk) 16:05, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

Critique section[edit]

Page lacks a section for critiques of behavior analysis. This should be included. Research in behavior analysis has failed to find additive effects for functional analysis over contingency management alone. In addition, multiple critiques have been certed around the restrictedrange of populations that behavior analytic research today is being conducted with —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:41, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

Is there a critique for any other natural science? Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 03:15, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
Behaviorism is a particular school of psychology. Particular schools of natural science are not dogma. They are open to critique as a matter of course under the scientific method. (talk) 02:45, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
With ABA having the term "applied" in its name it suggests it to be an applied science. Eugenics has its criticisms despite the fact that it is based upon data from genetics, but has critiques because of the consequences and effectiveness of its application. I think this page at least should have a section questioning the ethics of ABA and its applications. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:53, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
If there is a reasonably notable body of criticism of a science or of its application, it seems to me that it would make sense to mention that. Being an autism activist, I couldn't provide the NPOV to do that, but there are quite a few people in the autism acceptance community who have issues with the Lovaas method - mainly with regard to consent on the part of the supposed client, and (particularly at the Judge Rotenberg Centre [please correct spelling if needed]) the use of electric shock as aversives. I know that there is a link to Autism Activism at that point, but it might help to have some context for that link. Philculmer (talk) 13:02, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

The critic section should add source to claim as these clams are not supported by any source. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Knutjb (talkcontribs) 09:44, 19 April 2018 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

Professional practice of behavior analysis duplicates content which could be, belongs or is at Applied behavior analysis. It should be merged here. Otherwise, Professional practice of behavior analysis can be put up at WP:AFD as a duplicate of this article. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:42, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

I really don'tsee them as related. They are different in scope. Applied Behavior Analysis is more concerned with applied behavior analyticresearch. It covers the seven demensions to consider research as behavior analytic. Professional practice has a much greater focus on doing. This was discussed before. Which content is duplicated? Jcautilli2003 (talk) 04:53, 23 February 2008 (UTC)
Where was it discussed before? The topic is a duplicate (ABA, and it's practice should be in the same article). And see WP:NOT, we don't prescribe. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:58, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

Check the discussion page for Prof. Practice. It does to seem to be the same focus to me. I see the division is the difference is the same as the difference between medical research and medical practice. It is explained in the first three lines of the practice page. However. It does seem that the historical controversies section in the applied behavior analysis article should be limited to the discussion of research controversies and the rest should be moved to the practice section. Just my opinion but I do not see them as overlapped. TOM

The practice page does not perscribe, it describes. It describes what would be called the scope of practice and the level of training for practioners- it covers current debates...I think that the distinction is well established- practice is different from research. Practice is usually in different journals then research. In this case JABA versus IJBCT or Behavior Analytic Practice. The research differ in level of control and the research has greater variations with more professional concerns addressed. The ABA research page describes the factorsthat lead research to being considered behavior analytic. TOM, I am stil ldigesting your suggestions. I need to print out the pages to look over...Maybe Josh can weigh in on this. Jcautilli2003 (talk) 23:43, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

I took TOM's avdice and move the piece on historic controversises to the practice page. I agree that only research controversies should be on the ABA page and practitioner controversies should be on the practice page. Still I am confused as to wiether Lovaas's intervention should be on which page- it was research. I will leave this to Josh to decide. Jcautilli2003 (talk) 00:00, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Hi everyone!! I've been inactive the last month as my computer was down, and I've been running around trying to catch up with everything. I'm hoping to become more active soon!! Anyways -- regardint this merge discussion-- and I think that it is important that the distinction be made -- I was working on an article of Behavior Analysis -- which would discuss the 4 domains...for instance, working with a child with autism is not ABA (even though this is a common misconception) -- but if I'm working with a child of autism doing RESEARCH on which techniques work best, etc.. -- that is ABA. I'd like to remove the merge proposal -- I've also drafted a better organization of htis page, I think -- please look at it and let me know -- I can finish it up soon and then bring it over if everyone agrees. Thanks!! ABA Reworked Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 04:19, 24 February 2008 (UTC)
Hey, Josh, glad you're back. I put up the merge proposal after seeing a new article with significant cleanup needs covering similar territory as what you were already at work on. (Two articles needing cleanup is worse than one.) If you disagree with the merge, and have a scheme for how to make the pages work together, by all means remove my merge tags from both articles, and hopefully you'll be able to help clean up the new article. Best, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:32, 24 February 2008 (UTC)
I'm glad to be back!! I've added my edits to a talk page here -- Please everyone feel free to review and comment, and shortly we can update the old article to this one -- which I think delineates how ABA is different than practice! ABA Revised I'll remove the merger tag now -- let's look at it again at the end of this week, and see if we cleaned it all up properly! Thanks for everyone's help with this, and I'm really sorry I've been absent from the WP! Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 06:06, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Have merged my edits to the mainpage. Will be working on cleaning up and learning the MoS--sorry! Josh.Pritchard.DBA (talk) 07:24, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

Pivotal Response Therapy[edit]

The new section Applied behavior analysis#Pivotal Response Therapy is unsourced and poorly formatted. It also looks like it's not appropriate for that section of the article. I think whoever added it is still editing it, so I'll leave it be for now, but it doesn't look quite right as it is and perhaps someone with more ABA expertise can take a look. Eubulides (talk) 22:29, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

I looked a bit more at it and found that the new text contained large verbatim extracts from copyrighted material.[1], in violation of WP:COPYVIO policies. I removed the section. Eubulides (talk) 01:16, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Criticism of Spreckley & Boyd[edit]

This edit appended the following text to Applied behavior analysis #Effectiveness:

The study reviewed four articles, which statistically as the authors admit could not have acheived significance. Indeed, its publication is a curosity when it constrasts more through reviews (e.g., [1])

This text is a clear example of original research: it makes a claim about sources (namely, about Matson & Smith 2008 (doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2007.03.003), and about Spreckley & Boyd 2008 (doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2008.09.012)), but this claim is not supported by any sources. As per WP:OR, we cannot include text like this in Wikipedia, even if it is true. I have therefore removed the text. Please do not insert unsupported opinion like this into Wikipedia. I suggest discussing any further changes along these lines here, as per WP:BRD. (As it happens, the inserted text is also incorrect: Spreckley & Boyd reviewed 13 studies, not 4.) Eubulides (talk) 06:14, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Following up on the comment in User talk: #December 2008 saying "That they drew a conclusion from such a statistical sample is really questionable":
  • They reported that there was inadequate evidence. I agree that we should summarize their work more accurately to say this, so I made this change to reflect the lack of evidence they found.
  • It's not our place to write critiques of their work here: critiques are for reliable sources to write, not us.
  • Applied behavior analysis #Effectiveness currently cites Myers et al. 2007 (PMID 17967921), Eikeseth 2008 (PMID 18385012), Rogers & Vismara 2008 (PMID 18444052), and Reichow & Wolery 2008 (PMID 18535894), all recent reviews on ABA+autism that reported positive results. These reviews all seemed to me to be of just as high, if not higher, quality than Matson & Smith 2008 (doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2007.03.003) but if you feel it would also be helpful to summarize Matson & Smith please propose some text along those lines.
Eubulides (talk) 06:50, 29 December 2008 (UTC)


  1. ^ Matson, J.L. and Smith, K.R.M. (2008). Current status of intensive behavioral interventions for young children with autism and PDD-NOS. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2(1):60-74

Hypothetical constructs[edit]

Reinforcement is a hypthetical contruct. The issue is not contructs but the scale of analysis on which they occur. Reversed reversal. (talk) 19:45, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

You are correctJcautilli (talk) 19:52, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

You are wrong. Refer to my talkpage. Reinforcement is not a hypothetical construct but a description of a behavioral law. I suggest you both at minimum read the hypothetical construct article all the way through. Preferably, read some behavior analytic literature then come back to this article. (talk) 05:04, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Additionally, I have been trying to find a source that explicitly states reinforcement is not a hypothetical construct. However, this is no easy task. It's like trying to find a source that states red is not blue, or that the sky isn't made out of raisins. Nobody ever writes that reinforcement isn't a hypothetical construct because it's such an obvious fact to anyone in the scientific community. (talk) 05:19, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

"Skinner and Tolman seem to be almost wholly free of hypothetical constructs, although when Skinner invokes such notions as the ‘strain on the reserve’ (10, p. 289) it is difficult to be sure."

That is about as close as we are going to get. (talk) 05:31, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Let's go back a few steps and look at the word "hypothetical." "Hypothetical" means "being or involving as a hypothesis." (Merriam-Webster 2012) A construct that is well-proven and accepted is not "hypothetical," hence most of cognitive and psychodynamic psychology is not "hypothetical." The word "hypothetical" here serves the pro-ABA bias of this article. I hope "psychological theory" is a better term. Svend la Rose (talk) 01:00, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

More focus on modern concepts[edit]

Like Behavior analysis in general, this page suffers from a serious lack of focs on current research concepts like the matching law, momentum, and relational frame theory. (talk) 15:56, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

This article needs a re-write. However, the article needs to be made simpler and more accessible rather than filled with every related topic. (talk) 05:22, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Lie To Me[edit]

Note: This selection may have been poorly written to some, but it's clearly readable. Just take a little patience to actually read it!

Lie To Me: A new show called "Lie To Me" is based on Behavioral Analysis. It also gives information... just the basics of Behavioral Analysis. All that, and it's quite an interesting show. If you like things like "Bones" or "CSI" or "Ghost Whisperer"...check it out! (talk) 20:47, 9 August 2010 (UTC)Information Station Ad LIE TO ME

I've watched Lie to Me and it has nothing to do with ABA. (talk) 05:58, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Merging the articles Applied behavior analysis and Behavior modification[edit]

It is quite confusing to have to articles referring to the same form of treatment.
ABA is Behavior Modification in Applied Settings (also the book of the same name). It's basically modifying and reinforcing behavior by applying the use of behavior analysis (devised by B.F. Skinner). Moreover, See here: [2]. Behavior Modification has the same definition.

Not all ABA programs refer to Early Intensive Behavior Intervention/the Lovaas method or Pivotal response treatment (PRT), all of which are utilized for children and even young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). For other programs, ABA can be applied to various problems with which people have. It's called Positive behavior support (PBS, a form of ABA).

Finally, see here: [3]. Click "Search inside the book" and type Behavior Modification. It stated "Behavior Modification is an old expression [for Applied Behavior Analysis]".

Everything mentioned on the Behavior Mod article should be moved to the history section of Applied Behavior Analysis.
I would need approval for the articles to be merged with the information into one article: Applied Behavior Analysis.
ATC . Talk 02:34, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Before we jump into things, are we sure the two are synonymous and that the first term has superceded the second term, and that this has been generally accepted? Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:54, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
I will admit other books say that ABA is a form of Behavior Modification but they both have the same definition. I know this would be an original resource but Doreen Granpeesheh, a clinical psychologist and behavior analyst who studied under Ivar Lovaas at UCLA supports my conclusion. She has opened a clinic in Southern California and is recovering thousands of children...Anyway my point is during an interview by Fox News on her life and her mission in helping ASD children she said "Behavior modification is what we used to call it in the old days. It's based on how you reinforce something or don't reinforce something." ATC . Talk 15:00, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Nonetheless, I think at times scientific journals use Behavior Modification as a synonym for Behavior therapy although it is inaccurate. For example, they used to call Cognitive-Behavior Modification what is really called Cognitive-behavior therapy, a form of behavior/psychotherapy NOT behavior analysis. It is widely established, when treating autism, as the Lovaas/UCLA model of ABA; the latter of which is a behavioral science. ATC . Talk 16:02, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Also see here: [4]. It's a scholarly article which explains that ABA is NOT only used as a therapy for autism but for also reinforcing behavior in general. ATC . Talk
Resolved the issue. I found a journal explaining the controversy over the terms. See here: It states as follows: "A New Science? [section] Perhaps there is a tendency to draw pejorative contrasts between PBS and ABA in order to bolster claims about the status of PBS as a new and distinct science or discipline (e.g., Bambara et al., 1994; E. Carr, 1997; E. Carr et al., 2002; Knoster et al., 2003; Sisson, 1992). There may be disagreement among PBS leaders on this point. On the one hand, for example, Horner (2000) stated that 'Positive behavior support is not a new approach. … [It is] the application of behavior analysis to the social problems created by such behaviors as self-injury' (p. 97). He further stated, 'There is no difference in theory or science between positive behavior support and behavior modification. These are the same approach with different names. If any difference exists, it is in the acceptance [by PBS] of much larger outcomes and the need to deliver the global technology that will deliver these outcomes' (p. 99). Other writers have referred to PBS as an 'extension' of applied behavior analysis (e.g., Turnbull et al., 2002, p. 377). ATC . Talk 21:56, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Damn, I knew there was something else I meant to check...ask some psychologists at work about this.....Casliber (talk · contribs) 00:05, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
I think it's still controversial but ask. We need more than one source to verify this, and behavior modification is still used to describe other behavioral therapies that aren't based on behavior analysis. That's what several other journals do. I do not understand why they don't just call it "behavior therapy" but it's still good to check on. Furthermore, Behavior modification, Positive behavior support (PBS), and applied behavior analysis (ABA) all have the same definition. The way I view it is: in the old days behavior modification used a form of operant conditioning known as aversives such as electric shocks. Now they use a form of operant conditioning to what they now call positive reinforcement, the basis for ABA and its subtype PBS. ATC . Talk 07:12, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I do not think it is appropriate to say that Applied Behavior Analysis is the same as Behavior Modification. The latter is broader, which means that treating these two subjects as one would exclude other approaches or areas subsumed under BM. Reynolds and Wilson cited some distinctions.[1] First, ABA emphasizes the analysis of the effects of independent events or variables on the occurrence of specific behavior or responses. Secondly, its conceptualization of the term behavior is more limited in the sense that it does not subscribe to the traditional conceptualization of the term as the observable activity of an organism that is moving about, standing still, doing activities, interacting with objects, making sounds, etc. ABA focuses on discrete classes of behavior and conceptualizes the individual as a total functioning organism. Alan Kazdin also cited nine distinctive characteristics of ABA compared with other behavior modification techniques.[2] Darwin Naz (talk) 10:25, 4 February 2020 (UTC)


After reviewing the Applied Behavior Analysis page I felt it was very comprehensive. However, although there is a Wikipedia page for Ole Ivar Lovaas, there was nothing in the ABA page referencing him as one of the main founders of ABA. My addition of History will hopefully give insight into the beginnings of ABA therapy and start groundwork for others to add to it. Kmkessler (talk) 15:57, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

It's fine to leave on Lovaas' page that he is one of the "founding fathers" but not on this page. This is because no one is the "official" founder which makes it unnecessary to mention in the article. Plus see here: Early intensive behavior intervention (EIBI) which I revised. It explains the method he developed there. Take care. ATC . Talk 07:19, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Lovaas was not a founder of ABA. He was a founder of EIBI (the application of ABA to autism).

Definition in heading[edit]

ABA is NOT a form of behavior modification. Here it says by Mace (1994) in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis [5]: "Beyond behavior modification: A return to behavior analysis... Before applied behavior analysts had a methodology to identify the conditions maintaining aberrant behavior, the reinforcement histories that gave rise to current behavior-environment interactions were largely ignored...Instead, existing repertoires were altered and new ones established by superimposing reinforcement contingencies, punishment contingencies, or both, onto the current environmental contingencies or unknown processes that maintained aberrant behavior. The approach was generically known as behavior modification..."
Also see here (Mace & Critchfield, 2010 in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior [6]): "We briefly summarize...the foundation for the field of behavior modification. Modification of...undesirable behaviors was accomplished through the use of a wide range of differential positive and negative reinforcement procedures used with and without extinction... ABA changed abruptly in the mid-1980s... Known collectively as the functional analysis methodologies... these procedures shifted the focus of ABA research to determining the factors that maintain undesirable behavior and using this information to promote replacement behaviors that serve the same function (e.g., see Pelios, Morren, Tesch, & Axelrod, 1999)." ATC . Talk 04:17, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
And here (Pelios, Morren, Tesch, and Axelrod in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis [7]): "Additional perspectives for the explanation of the development and spread of functional analysis methodology become apparent when one examines the broader context of the evolution of the scientific community of applied behavior analysis over the past three decades (1970s through 1990s). Behavior modification was an early approach that emphasized how powerful reinforcement and punishment contingencies can change behavior regardless of its causes. Applied behavior analysis was an approach that emphasized the analysis of functional relations between behavior and its causes (Mace, 1994)." ATC . Talk 00:07, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

I'm confused, all these quotes are talking about behaviour modification No-genius (talk) 23:40, 31 March 2018 (UTC)

Poor sourcing, promotional links[edit]

This addition [8] is poorly sourced and should not appear in this article. One source [9] is a commercial site selling services related to the added passage. The other source [10] is a meeting abstract. Neither is a reliable source. CatPath (talk) 17:47, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

Response from User InfoPurist copied here from User_talk:InfoPurist#Your_edits_to_Applied_behavior_analysis: "The international conference for Applied Behavior Analysis International is a peer reviewed setting, as is Stanford University's Medicine-X Conference. The citations are accurate, verifiable, and have been peer reviewed. The link to the cite for democratized ABA is also peer reviewed, and contains the entire science of Applied Behavior Analysis translated into code. Kindly review the cites before dismissing them."
Conference presentations are not reliable sources. The peer review conducted at scientific conferences is minimal and is based on abstracts submitted by the presenters (at best). At minimum, you need a rigorously peer-reviewed journal article that describes the effectiveness of the approach described in the site. Studies accepted and presented at conferences are often rejected later when written into a full manuscript and submitted to a peer-reviewed academic journal. The best source would be a review article in a scientific journal that reports the acceptance of this DIY approach in the wider ABA community, but I'm not aware of any such source. Without an appropriate source, it's too soon to make the additions you propose. CatPath (talk) 19:06, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Any basic understanding of ABA would reveal it is the most rigorous data driven behavioral science, for which nothing can exist without explicit evidence. Moreover, we have presented our data at ABAI, FABA, and Stanford and to date not one point is refuted now since 2013 by even one clinician or scientist because it is mathematical. Providing the means to disseminate the science is part of the ethical requirements for all BCBAs, and your suggestion that the information is poorly sourced has no merit. A program that coded the entire science that self-reports efficacy is the purest iteration of ABA in the absence of a clinician. Now 1:45, there are more than 6.8 Million people in the U.S. alone who cannot access the primary treatment for ASD, and providing the verified (Michael Wesolowski, BCBA-D a pioneer in the field, called Autism-U a harbinger in the field as he taught one of the first curriculums in ABA - since the 1970s - and oversees the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in the southern region of Florida). Finally, the BACB required parents be actively engaged in treatment, and the data produced by a parent would pass a Turing test as you would be unable to discern if a clinician or lay person created it. When a parent can produce the same reports as a clinician, we achieved verification, and it is why Autism-U is the subject of a bipartisan initiative to recognize the platform as a provider, historically a designation limited to humans. You are invited to verify these facts with Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Bill Nelson who support it, and for which Autism-U satisfied the scrutiny (and submitted to the scrutiny) of the FDA, the ONC, and HHS. Given that there can be no argument to the contrary, your reverting the edits is baseless and suggests bias.InfoPurist (talk) 05:17, 30 November 2015 (UTC)InfoPurist

Also, we take issue with the dismissive statement we are selling anything. We are educating, which is the mission of Wilipedia. We also reduced the cost of treatment by up to 40K% from $100K/yr to fifty cents a day. We are the antithesis to the Martin Shkrelis of the world having coded the only means to change the primary treatment rate for all intellectual disabilities from less than 1% to 100%. We are the means by which 6.8 million people in need can access treatment who otherwise would not access it, given that there are ~16K certified BCBAs to deliver the primary treatment for all intellectual disabilities in the U.S., therefore the dissemination of science has never been more critical to date. To suggest it is too early to disseminate an applied science made digital is the same failed argument made by Kathy Dudek of Florida's AHCA, who's "too early" argument was ruled arbitrary and capricious in the USDC Southern District of Florida case that found withholding ABA causes irreparable harm, and the only thing your edits will surely accomplish.InfoPurist (talk) 05:37, 30 November 2015 (UTC)InfoPurist

No one here is trying to stop you from advertising your services to those in need of them. You just can't do it on Wikipedia. Also, facts supported by unpublished statements from prominent individuals are not considered verifiable under Wikipedia guidelines. Those facts must be published in reliable sources before they can be deemed verifiable. And as I said before, meeting abstracts and commercial websites are poor sources. CatPath (talk) 17:56, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
As for your most recent addition ([11]), I never said or implied ABA was experimental. However, a legal ruling requiring the government to fund ABA therapy for autism is not a validation of self- or parent-directed ABA. You really need to stop editing the article until a consensus is reached regarding what to do about your edits. CatPath (talk) 22:19, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

First, the peer reviewed sources are within the Wikipedia guidelines. Contrary to the assertion that the citation is an abstract, the content guidelines require precisely that, and to avoid lengthy full text primary sources.

Second, the policy on sourcing is verifiability. The verifiable sources are reliable (Stanford University, Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Florida Association of Behavior Analysts, Association for Behavior Analysis International, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are demonstrable leaders in academics, behavioral health, healthcare, and technology, and Autism-U is sourced as the creator of the work). According to Wikipedia's definition of a source Definition of a source The word "source" when citing sources on Wikipedia has three related meanings: The piece of work itself (the article, book) The creator of the work (the writer, journalist) The publisher of the work (for example, Random House or Cambridge University Press) Any of the three can affect reliability. Reliable sources may be published materials with a reliable publication process, authors who are regarded as authoritative in relation to the subject, or both. These qualifications should be demonstrable to other people.

Third, the company Autism-U is inherently notable according to the terms for notability, as it is the focus of a bipartisan initiative to recognize its software as a provider by CMS, a designation historically reserved to humans, and would represent a watershed moment in artificial intelligence. Arbitrary standards should not be used to create a bias favoring larger organizations or their products, when the information verified and sourced includes the use of artificial intelligence to increase access to behavioral health treatment on a scale never before possible. Wikipedia is supposed to include updated information. Referring to sources in 2007 is relegating Wikipedia users to a historic, and not current, event when the advances in artificial intelligence, according to Moore's Law, demand we have learned something since 2007 which may be beneficial for Wiki readers to review. The ability to self-manage treatment and crowdsource clinical trial data having been verified since 2013, it is relevant to the field of AI that it be recognized as the catalyst, hence the edits to this section. The arbitrary removal suggests bias for the reasons stated above.

Finally, this detail disrupts the Wikipedia guidelines that editors suggest maintain the dependency on clinicians for verification of any healthcare treatment data. This is contrary to the standards set by the BACB, as it necessitates it. Enabling self-directed (DIY) behavioral health treatment in the absence of a clinician . It is ironic that ABA is an important catalyst in redefining what it means to be a healthcare provider, and that informaton is being quashed by the editors of the ABA page.InfoPurist (talk) 04:15, 1 December 2015 (UTC)InfoPurist

This page, which you linked in your response, is about adding quotes from primary sources. I'm not asking you quote the full text of a primary source. I'm asking for a link to the full text of a reliable source, which you have yet to provide. Conference abstracts are inherently poor sources because they can't be scrutinized by peer reviewers to the same degree as manuscripts submitted for publication to scholarly journals, which detail the methodology, data, results, and conclusions of scientific studies. CatPath (talk) 17:22, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
I don't think we're progressing in our discussion, so I reached out to seek other opinions on the sources in question: Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Medicine#Need_opinions_on_sources_for_Applied_behavior_analysis. CatPath (talk) 18:16, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
  • while obviously not bound to WP MEDRS,I would go with... yet to provide. Conference abstracts are inherently poor sources because they can't be scrutinized by peer reviewers to the same degree as manuscripts submitted ...for articles[12]...IMO--Ozzie10aaaa (talk) 20:28, 1 December 2015 (UTC) for journals

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Weirdly long intro section[edit]

Should be pared back. Locochoko (talk) 23:46, 15 May 2019 (UTC)

Giving fair weight to criticisms of autism-related ABA[edit]

@CatPath: Hello! My revision, in which I put "criticisms" under its own header, was just undone. I understand the reasoning - "this places undue weight... on criticisms, which only refer to autism." Is there some middle ground? For example, can we put it under the header but label it "Criticisms regarding use as autism therapy" or words to that effect? There is a growing chorus of #ActuallyAutistic people who are talking about their negative experiences with it, and I think that is notable enough to deserve its own subheading. Also the section is well-referenced and long enough to be its own section, and it's kinda hiding away in its current location. Thanks Locochoko (talk) 01:03, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

Edited to tag user properly :) Locochoko (talk) 01:05, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
Actually, the quality of the references is poor. The main claim made in the subsection is that ABA causes PTSD in many autistics. The medical claim that ABA causes PTSD requires a secondary source (review article) published in a reputable scientific journal (see WP:MEDRS). The (poorly-designed) study that is cited is a primary source, and the remaining sources are news articles and a personal blog. Giving the "Criticisms" section its own header in any form would give even more prominence to a low-quality study that would normally be deleted under a strict application of MEDMRS. Note that all of the sources provided under "Efficacy" are comprehensive reviews or meta-analyses of multiple studies. Properly sourced accounts of negative experiences of autistics who went through ABA are better suited for Autism rights movement. CatPath (talk) 02:09, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
I removed the passage that discusses the controversial practices being implemented at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center. None of the three sources cited mention ABA. CatPath (talk) 14:12, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

NPOV and criticism of ABA[edit]

This article is not written from a neutral point of view. Its edit history has included persistent removal of criticisms of ABA from a disability, LGBT, and autism rights perspective. It does not give due weight to those perspectives per WP:NPOV guidelines. Some embodiments of ABA have historically included the use of electrical stimulation devices (ESDs).

  • In its ruling on ESDs, which banned ESDs, the FDA stated that "medical literature shows that ESDs present risks of a number of psychological harms including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, fear, panic, substitution of other negative behaviors, worsening of underlying symptoms, and learned helplessness (becoming unable or unwilling to respond in any way to the ESD); and the devices present the physical risks of pain, skin burns, and tissue damage."[3]
  • In 2013, Juan Mendez, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, asserted that “the rights of the students of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center subjected to…electric shock and physical means of restraints have been violated under the U.N. Convention against Torture and other international standards.”[4]
  • Disturbing Behaviors: Ole Ivar Lovaas and the Queer History of Autism Science[5]
  • Comments made to FDA from Cameron Michael a JRC-affiliated psychologist [6]

Furthermore, there are 'weasel' phrases within the article such as "It is also the gold standard treatment for that diagnosis as it is considered to be most effective according to the American Academy of Pediatrics." What exactly is a 'gold standard treatment'? The terms 'gold standard treatment' are not defined in the citation given.

Kdbeall (talk) 16:39, 9 October 2020 (UTC)


  1. ^ Reynolds, Cecil; Wilson, Victor (2013). Methodological and Statistical Advances in the Study of Individual Differences. New York: Plenum Press. p. 336. ISBN 9781468449426.
  2. ^ Kazdin, Alan (2013). Behavior Modification in Applied Settings: Seventh Edition. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc. p. 33. ISBN 1577667808.
  3. ^ "FDA Final Rule JRC" (PDF). FDA Final Ruling JRC.
  4. ^ "U.N. Report Suggests Some Autism & Addiction Treatments Are Akin to Torture". Time. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  5. ^ "Disturbing Behaviors: Ole Ivar Lovaas and the Queer History of Autism Science". Catalyst Journal.
  6. ^ Cameron, Michael. "RE: April 24, 2014 Meeting of the Neurological Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee" (PDF).
It is recognized by all I think that the article needs improving and there is an attempt above to decide on the best sources to use, as preparatory work for that. OTOH there has also been, across Wikipedia, something of an over-focus on what is apparently one rogue institution in America, which has had its own POV problems. Please add any great sources on ABA that you know of to that growing list ... Alexbrn (talk) 16:49, 9 October 2020 (UTC)

Alexbrn (talk) 16:54, 9 October 2020 (UTC)

I have undone your removal of my edit. The phrasing makes sense in scope. Please explain your reasoning within this talk page. Thanks.

Kdbeall (talk) 16:59, 9 October 2020 (UTC)

First of all, don't WP:EW as it is disruptive, and we've had enough drama on this topic recently already. When we're discussing ABA we should use sources which discuss ABA. Mentioning the JRC here seems off-topic, and savours of WP:COATRACKing, worsening the article's POV problem rather than improving it. (And I should say, the wider discussion on this is taking place at Talk:Discrete trial training, including how this topic space is partitioned - please participate if you can!) Alexbrn (talk) 17:05, 9 October 2020 (UTC)

Alexbrn (talk)

Regardless of your personal opinion of "drama" within this page, ignoring material facts about some controversial historical embodiments of ABA and its usage does not support WP:NPOV. My inclusion of references to JRC, in a limited and appropriate scope, supports WP:NPOV. I also saw you edited my personal talk page in regards to WP:EW. I am aware of the 3R rule. It's not good practice to, as WP:EW states, post a "generic warning template if you are actively involved in the edit war yourself; it can be seen as aggressive. Consider writing your own note to the user specifically appropriate for the situation, with a view to explicitly cooling things down."

Kdbeall (talk) 17:38, 9 October 2020 (UTC)

Okay, so you've shown yourself as an edit warrior and POV pusher, unwilling/unable to engage with the points raised, good for that to be clear. The drama was at WP:ANI, not here. On edit-warring, you have been warned. Alexbrn (talk) 19:33, 9 October 2020 (UTC)
Could you explain your comment "we've got another one" within the edit summary? I object to being described as an "edit warrior and POV pusher, unwilling/unable to engage with the points raised." WP:PERSONAL. My edits have been made in good faith to improve the article. Could you explain your position on adding the following to either the "Use of aversives" or "Controversy" section? The edit reverted had the sentence, "In regards to the usage of ESDs, the FDA stated that "only one facility is using these devices in the United States, the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts, and estimates between 45 and 50 individuals are currently being exposed to the device." WP:COATRACKing does not apply because my reference to JRC was limited in scope and preceded by a valid context for a brief mention of JRC. WP:COATRACK states that "It would be reasonable to include brief information of the background behind a key detail." This is a key detail because it establishes the scale of use of ESDs. Thank you. Kdbeall (talk) 20:26, 9 October 2020 (UTC)
Another edit warrior, as you are repeatedly forcing your text into the article when the WP:ONUS is to achieve consensus. The source is not about ABA so irrelevant here. So far as I can tell what went on at the JRC was some kind of home-brewed aversion therapy dreamt up by the guy running the place. Alexbrn (talk) 06:42, 10 October 2020 (UTC)
"Home-brewed aversion therapy dreamt up" marginalizes the issue. The JRC is a multi-million dollar facility founded by a Harvard educated psychologist. In comments made to the FDA, a JRC-affiliated psychologist asserted that "all textbooks used for thorough training of applied behavior analysts include an overview of the principles of punishment, including the use of electrical stimulation." See the "Aversive comments - part 1" section. Kdbeall (talk) 16:58, 10 October 2020 (UTC)
Of course the organization itself is going to try to claim legitimacy. But we know from our cited sources that the use of aversives has been long deprecated within the mainstream. You're going to need to show source explicitly tying ABA to the FDA ban to avoid WP:SYNTHESIS. Alexbrn (talk) 17:14, 10 October 2020 (UTC)

@Kdbeall: Don't let his dismissal of your opinion get on your nerves. He doesn't have a monopoly on how to interpret these sources, and the JRC's use of electric shocks was certainly not "some kind of home-brewed aversion therapy dreamt up by the guy running the place". Matthew Israel borrowed the idea from Ivar Lovaas (who is sometimes called the father of ABA), and initially implemented if with the SIBIS, which was an FDA approved device. When the SIBIS proved not to be powerful enough, he invented the Graduated electronic decelerator, which was also cleared by the FDA. The JRC is a large and powerful organization with influence over major behavioral groups like ABA International, not some marginal fringe group. They get their licence to operate from the state. As you have pointed out (and sourced in the article) all textbooks on ABA discuss the use of punishment. This should not be whitewashed from the article. Wikiman2718 (talk) 12:45, 11 October 2020 (UTC)

Masters thesis?[edit]

This[13] edit appears to be an addition of a Masters thesis. If we are looking to improve source quality we should be going in the opposite direction (especially to high-quality published secondary sources) as low-quality sourcing like this worsens the POV problem, as does having in Wikipedia's voice the POV that this source "explains" something. Alexbrn (talk) 08:27, 10 October 2020 (UTC)

Within the controversy section, it is applicable because it is a political opinion by a well-known autistic activist about ABA. Citing from a thesis is more reliable than citing, say, a personal blog. My position is that WP:MEDRS should apply to most material herein with exceptions to the controversy and history sections. I have changed the word "explains" to "commented." Kdbeall (talk) 17:04, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
There's nothing in the WP:PAGs to support your thinking. Masters theses are unreliable unless they have known significant impact, and without secondary coverage of this primary source, it is undue. Is there such coverage? Alexbrn (talk) 17:15, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
The masters thesis is being used to source an opinion. We even allow blogs for that. The use of the source in this context should be fine. Wikiman2718 (talk) 17:23, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
Except for the WP:PAGs, which I have already referenced. Looks like POV-pushing. Would you also allow a master thesis which said electric shocks were an excellent idea to normalize autistic people? Start ignoring the rules and everything can go very bad ... Alexbrn (talk) 17:30, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
Please don't accuse me of ignoring the rules. I am doing no such thing. And yes, I would allow such a thesis if it were being used as a source for an opinion (Matthew Israel's, for example). We would, of course, have the use that statement in a context where is was clear that it is untrue. Wikiman2718 (talk) 17:36, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
We should avoid unreliable sources, and avoid primary sources unless secondary sources give us reason to think them due. That is kind of basic. I shall raise a noticeboard query, as this looks like a further extension of the issues we've been having on other autism-related topics. Alexbrn (talk) 17:44, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
Alexbrn the example given is a strawman argument. In your example, WP:MEDRS would apply as it is an assertion about a medical claim. The edit being discussed in this thread is about a political opinion made about ABA so WP:MEDRS source rules do not apply.Kdbeall (talk) 17:57, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
Alexbrn: We most certainly do not need a secondary sources for a quote. If there is any genuine doubt about the reliability of this quote, please present it here. And this discussion is indicative of problems we have been having on other autism-related topics. To be more specific, you have been misapplying the rules to argue for your preferred version while at the same time accusing others of POV. I see in the previous section another misapplication of SYNTH to try to block from the article that electric shocks are an ABA thing. I don't even know how you get that idea. There are tons of sources linking these shocks to ABA. Try this one, for example. So from now on let's correctly apply the rules and not just use them to our advantage. Wikiman2718 (talk) 17:59, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
I didn't mention WP:MEDRS, you alone raised it. Per WP:SCHOLARSHIP, masters theses are unreliable unless they can be shown to have had significant impact. Per NPOV, to determine proper weight, we consider a viewpoint's prevalence in reliable sources. To repeat, the problem here is with reliability and POV. In general, before hand-waving about "the rules", it helps to some basic WP:CLUE about them. Alexbrn (talk) 18:17, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
Firstly, the POV tag was placed by Kdbeall in response to the recent removal of content about the use of aversives in ABA for the "treatment" of autism, homosexuality, and "gender disturbance". We are discussing the return of that material, not its further removal. While Kdbeall did raise the issue of MEDRS, and not you, let's bear in mind that he is a newbie (<200 edits), so we should introduce him gently to the rules, rather than beating him over the head with them. Sending him a level three warning to an editor that you are engaged in a dispute with is a civility violation, and if I remember correctly, you did the same to me when I was new. As for the quote, I see that it was made by Lydia Brown. Her website makes it clear that she welcomes and responds to contact. If there is any doubt as to the legitimacy of the quote, we can just asked her to verify it and publish the response on her blog, which is considered reliable per WP:ABOUTSELF. I think that would be a much nicer way to introduce this newbie to the rules than a level three warning. Wikiman2718 (talk) 18:55, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
You are ignoring the WP:PAGs I quoted. Nobody is questioning the "legitimacy" of the quote (i.e. I'm sure it's what was written). The problem for Wikipedia is that masters theses are unreliable, and their use undue. Since I thought you had grasped the concept from elsewhere the goal is to find the WP:BESTSOURCES and use them, this push to use an unreliable source is ... quite something. Alexbrn (talk) 19:02, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
WP:RS makes it very clear that reliability depends on context, and is a matter of judgement. As no one here (including you) doubts the authenticity of the quote, it probably doesn't need to be sourced to the New York Times. But the issue is moot, because I can just contact Lydia Brown through her website to get the quote verified on her blog. This is a solution that should please all of us. Wikiman2718 (talk) 19:14, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
No because that is not the issue. To repeat: to determine proper weight, we consider a viewpoint's prevalence in reliable sources. Just because somebody's said something (in an unreliable source) about the world, does not mean it's due. This is the essence of NPOV. To say something about the autism rights movement, we need to find (good) sources on that. Wikipedia editors deciding for themselves what primary sources matter, and pushing them is a species of original research. Alexbrn (talk) 19:20, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
Firstly, the issue is reliability. You have now switched it to weight, which is moving the goalposts. And original research is not even related to what we are discussing here. Let's try to correctly apply the guidelines. Wikiman2718 (talk) 19:30, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
The issue is twofold, as I have consistently said - reliability and weight. It is original research to present primary sources, especially with editorial analysis as has been done here ("similarly argued") yes. Alexbrn (talk) 19:38, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
If you are concerned about the word "similarly", we can just remove it. And this viewpoint (that the goals of ABA are unethical) is quite thoroughly discussed in reliable sources, and even in the scientific literature (see here). The article benefits from quotes like this to illustrate the point. Wikiman2718 (talk) 19:45, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
Great, then produce those reliable sources so we can cite them. The problem will then be solved. Alexbrn (talk) 19:50, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
Just did. Unfortunately, science isn't big on quotes. That's what we have blogs for. Wikiman2718 (talk) 19:52, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
Okay, I've cleared out the thesis, ready for the reliable source as replacement. Might this[14] be useful? Alexbrn (talk) 19:55, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
I see lots of quotes, but none of them seem as direct and relevant to the topic as the one you just removed. I'd rather just give it a day or two and wait for Lydia Brown respond. Then we can just "upgrade" the source for the quote without removing good content. Wikiman2718 (talk) 20:00, 11 October 2020 (UTC)

The whole point is to summarize good sources, and not to have some favoured POV which one then tries to source even it if means using something weak. That would be textbook POV-pushing. A masters thesis was never going to be a suitable source. Alexbrn (talk) 20:04, 11 October 2020 (UTC)

So we're back to accusations of POV pushing, which means we've gone full circle here. The whole point was to get a quote to illustrate the POV expressed in scientific literature. I'll just wait for the quote to be verified. Wikiman2718 (talk) 20:15, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
We don't "get quotes" to "verify" things which we (as editors) think is important. And yes, that would be POV-pushing. We reflect what high-quality, published, mainly secondary sources are saying on the topic. We are required to represent fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic. Significance is determined by secondary coverage. You have said this topic is quite thoroughly (your emphasis) discussed in reliable sources, so I look forward to seeing you deliver something based on that. Alexbrn (talk) 20:24, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
It is an accepted practice to let living people verify facts about themselves for inclusion in articles related to them by publishing to a blog or a website. The quote illustrates the common POV (published in high quality sources) that ABA's goal of promoting normality is unethical. Scientific literature is overkill here, and if this doesn't prove the significance of the debate I somehow doubt that popular press will change your mind. Wikiman2718 (talk) 21:17, 11 October 2020 (UTC)

Controversy Section[edit]

Alexbrn and Wikiman2718 it would be more constructive to discuss overhauling the controversy section as a whole. Statements such as it is "Autism advocates contend that it is cruel to try to make autistic people 'normal' without consideration for how this may affect their well-being" aren't being given context. Finn Gardiner, writing in the anthology book All the Weight of Our Dreams, claimed that "clinicians, teachers, and family members would frame my being autistic as a series of deficits and unwanted traits that had to be expunged in order to make me "indistinguishable from peers," because acting openly autistic was a sin against the holy gods of ABA and Ivar Lovaas, and every other methodology that aimed to extinguish autism, rather than work to a society that included us. Flapping my hands? Unthinkable. Talking about my special interests? How dare I. Inadvertently making social gaffes? Time to be screamed at for five minutes straight until I'm so filled with shame that the idea of trying to get close to people strikes terror into my heart." Including sources like that would improve this article. Kdbeall (talk) 21:56, 11 October 2020 (UTC)

Existing sources can also help. Within the Atlantic article "Is the Most Common Therapy for Autism Cruel?," it describes how "There is increasing evidence, for example, that children with apraxia, or motor planning difficulties, can sometimes understand instructions or a request, but may not be able to mentally plan a physical response to a verbal request" e.g. "Kedar received 40 hours a week of traditional ABA therapy, in addition to speech therapy, occupational therapy and music therapy. But he still could not speak, communicate nonverbally, follow instructions or control his behavior when asked, for instance, to pick up the correct number of sticks. Kedar understood the request, but was unable to coordinate his knowledge with his physical movement. He was humiliated when the ABA therapist reported that he had 'no number sense.'" Kdbeall (talk) 22:09, 11 October 2020 (UTC)

Hey! Thanks a lot for pointing out a constructive path here. That was much needed. Here are two more sources on the ethics controversy.[1][2] Wikiman2718 (talk) 22:22, 11 October 2020 (UTC)


  1. ^ Shyman, Eric (2016-10-01). "The Reinforcement of Ableism: Normality, the Medical Model of Disability, and Humanism in Applied Behavior Analysis and ASD". Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 54 (5): 366–376. doi:10.1352/1934-9556-54.5.366. ISSN 1934-9491.
  2. ^ Mottron, Laurent (2017-07). "Should we change targets and methods of early intervention in autism, in favor of a strengths-based education?". European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 26 (7): 815–825. doi:10.1007/s00787-017-0955-5. ISSN 1435-165X. PMC 5489637. PMID 28181042. Check date values in: |date= (help)