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 will do this by raising awareness of ABA through all the media channels we can 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 UK-SBA's recent application for accreditation of its register by the Professional Standards Authority is also a crucial step for UK behaviour analysis.
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.
Move towards possible accreditation gathers pace
The UK Society for Behaviour Analysis (UK-SBA) is at an advanced stage in its submission to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) seeking accreditation of its register of ABA professionals. Such accreditation, if achieved, would turbocharge both consumer protection and the standing/uptake of ABA in the UK. ABAA4ALL founder Jane McCready is a UK-SBA Advisory Board member and former consumer board member and continues to be part of the taskforce seeking accreditation.
Read our letter to the PSA here. It's also a useful tool to counter myths about ABA.
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).
The programme features the awesome state special school Treetops in Essex, with the then-deputy Lesley Love BCaBA (pictured below with Johnny, son of ABAA4ALL founder Jane McCready. Dr Vince Carbone, BCBA-D, makes a short but significant contribution.
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.
New Information Autism website (formerly known as Research Autism): what this impartial UK charity (which follows NHS best practice guidelines for reliable, high quality information about health matters) says about ABA - June 2022
Important new UK endorsement for ABA. If you refer to the new Information Autism site, you will find that it gives 'green tick' approval ratings to several ABA-based therapies, including Early Intensive Behavioural Interventions, Discrete Trial Training, PECS and Pivotal Response Treatment. Information Autism cites "strong positive evidence" for some ABA-based interventions and "less strong but still positive evidence" for others, but doesn't rate ABA as a whole because it says there are many different interventions, programmes and techniques that incorporate ABA principles. (See here for the list of Information Autism evaluations.)
Impressive results from Australian survey
Quality of life is improved though ABA, with reference to independence, enjoyment, social inclusion, anxiety, skills development and more, finds a survey conducted by Monash University in Australia of families and practitioners.
NAS employing more and more ABA staff
It's great to see no fewer than four PBS job ads on the National Autistic Society website today (30/05/2022) seeking ABA-qualified candidates, one of which is "to assist in the continued development and operation of the school-wide implementation of PBS." Three ads mention regular clinical supervision from
More councils employing behaviour experts
Both Medway Council and Essex Council have positions advertised for those with ABA/PBS qualifications. Interestingly, Medway is expanding to support those with emotional or behavioural distress in addition to the services already in place for those with learning disabilities or autism. The Essex post is to join the social care team supporting those with a complex learning disability or autism. The posts are advertised on the respective council websites and the closing dates are Feb/March 2022.
All 50 states in the US now covering ABA on Medicaid
In 2014 a federal directive stated that Medicaid (a US program that helps with healthcare costs for those on limited income and resources) must cover necessary care for those with autism up to the age of 21, which included ABA. However, some states dragged their heels, and it is only now in February 2022 that Texas became the last state to comply. While ABA is accessible through private insurance, this last turnaround means that more children and young people across the country should be able to benefit from this method. Let's hope the UK takes note!
Combatting bias and misrepresentation of ABA
BCBA-Ds Professor Mickey Keenan and Karola Dillenburger (also a Clinical Psychologist) have issued a very insightful response to the BPS guidelines (referenced recently in our News) drawing attention to 'omission bias' in relation to ABA and how this can have serious consequences.
Daily injections for Type 1 Diabetes can be a nightmare when you are autistic. But teen Johnny has learnt how to manage his own jabs through ABA. BeyondAutism, a charity providing ABA, has released this video to celebrate World Diabetes Day.
As an adult with severe autism, challenging behaviour and epilepsy, Harun has a bespoke ABA programme and spends much of his time learning on a farm, all due to his mum's dedication to getting him the right support in his EHCP.
Our very own Jane McCready talks about how ABAA4ALL was created and gives the lowdown on ABA in the UK in this interview by the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), a US autism research organisation.