What we do
The aim of the ABA Access4All parent campaign is to promote awareness, understanding and much wider access to professionally-managed ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) therapies for children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities throughout the UK.
ABA has the strongest evidence base for improving outcomes with such disabilities and yet is still not widely enough understood or available in the UK. We aim to raise awareness of ABA through the media and on social networks, through lobbying and seeking to influence at government and local government level, and through judicial review, with successful settlement in Wolverhampton Read more. The recent accreditation of the UK-SBA's register of ABA professionals by major UK regulator the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) marks a crucial step-change for UK behaviour analysis - Read more.
A bit about ABA
The science of ABA has its roots in the work of pioneering psychologist Dr BF Skinner in the last century. Of course, like any science, ABA has moved on since those early days, but the principles remain the same: reward or "reinforce" the behaviours we want to see; ignore, or give a dull consequence to behaviour we do not want to see. And the words "reward" and "behaviour" are both misleading. Many think that reward is synonymous with a "treat" – rather, for a behaviour analyst, reinforcement is a consequence that is likely to lead to an increase in a behaviour occurring again, and is therefore meaningful for the individual child.
ABA is not "one thing" but is centred on and individualised to a child's particular needs and motivations. And the word "behaviour" colloquially has come to mean "bad behaviour". This is why some think, mistakenly, that ABA is just about "managing out" an autistic child's 'bad' or anti-social behaviours. But to a behaviour analyst, the word behaviour covers everything a person "does" – from all our actions, through to talking, reading and writing and even our thoughts and feelings. The principles of learning are universal and ABA can be used to teach any skill; it is used not just in the autism world, but also many other areas, e.g addictions, organisational behaviour and in mainstream schools. Please click here for our leaflet.
How it all began
Autism: Challenging Behaviour is the BBC documentary that kicked off the ABAA4ALL campaign. When it first aired in November 2013, and again in January 2017, it helped create a national debate and gave a huge boost to ABA awareness.
Although the documentary polarised views: ironically with some saying it was too anti-ABA and some too pro-ABA, it stimulated a debate. And the end shot, as the ABA child joyfully ate sausage and chips, while the child at the eclectic school seemed to be heading for tube-feeding, made it fairly clear to us that ABA was the better route to go. Indeed several mums we know started ABA pretty much as soon as the end credits rolled. Watch it below! (Click Vimeo to see it full-screen).
Once you've seen the programme, check out how Jack, the boy in the shot above, is getting on three years afterwards. I think you'll agree that the results speak volumes. Click here to see a short video.
Improving quality of life
Jane McCready, founder of ABAA4All, gave a Keynote speech at the 5th annual conference of the Queen's University Belfast Centre for Behaviour Analysis. Her theme was the skills her 19-year-old son has learned via ABA - skills which have immeasurably improved his quality of life.
Professor Karola Dillenburger gives an introduction to Jane's talk, which covers the areas of communication; reading and writing; self-help skills; challenging behaviour; work skills; fun; and sport. Watch it below!
ABA now regulated!
January 10th 2023 was a huge day for ABA in the UK. It now comes under a serious UK regulator, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). This puts registered ABA professionals on an equal footing with their colleagues such as SALTs and OTs. Now hopefully all UK ABA professionals will get onto the register, improving consumer protection and taking the pressure off us consumers from checking DBS, insurance, safeguarding training etc.
Autism: How my autistic foster brother inspired my life's work
BBC News talks to Risca Solomon, whose family fostered a young boy called Dan with autism and challenging behaviour and turned his life around through ABA and Talk Tools. Encouraged by Dan's progress, Risca became a BCBA and started Skybound Therapies to help others and is looking to set up a residential centre. Read more...
Autism politics and the death of truth and freedom
An interesting discussion about how disability rights and social justice movements (containing just a small select vocal group from the spectrum) can have an enormous and damaging influence by contaminating studies and reports with bias... Read more...
New book alert! One family's ABA journey
Hot off the press is a new book by author Sarah Ziegel called Marching to a Different Beat. The book follows former nurse Sarah's own personal story about life with her husband and their four autistic boys.