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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 and their ABA journeys, including tackling tribunals. The book is the second for Sarah, who wrote the popular A Parent's Guide to Coping with Autism, which was published in 2016. Both books are available to buy on Amazon.
Myths busted by BCBA
Well done to Konstantinos Rizos, BCBA at Forest Bridge School, for getting ABA into the latest issue of SEN Magazine. He gets to grips with 12 myths and misunderstandings in this double-page spread. Read more here.
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. Ninety-one percent reported that the family member enjoyed taking part in ABA. That's just one positive result. Read more here.
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 a BCBA. The NAS also talks in one ad about its extensive PBS team "as a national integrated network of area behaviour specialists, dedicated to the design and implementation of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) for autistic individuals who present distressed responses." Click here to view the jobs (top tip - search for "behaviour" in the Position Title Search field.
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.
Best Practice Guidelines from the British Psychological Society
A 52-page document Working with Autism: Best Practice Guidelines for Psychologists published in August calls for the "use of principles based on PBS to help individuals acquire skills to improve quality of life." This is in regard to working with adults with autism (see page 33). Read more...
New Position Statement supports PBS as an alternative to meds
A new paper from the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists has been published in August 2021 regarding “Stopping the overmedication of people with intellectual disability, autism or both (STOMP) and supporting treatment and appropriate medication in paediatrics (STAMP)” and makes specific reference to ABA and PBS. Read more...
NICE slightly softening towards ABA - autism best practice can accommodate ABA
When we started this campaign in 2013, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) had a blanket statement about not recommending ABA due to lack of enough of their preferred Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) evidence. This has now softened and in fact NICE says in black and white (in response to our recent lobbying) that their recommended best practice for autism - both teaching skills and managing challenging behaviour - might include or “accommodate” the use of ABA. This is good news! It stops short of what we’d prefer - that they actually name as ABA the “psychosocial interventions for autism” that sound pretty much exactly like ABA, but are left vague - no help to consumers. However “accommodate” is better than a “no”. Read more...
ABA and the elderly
One of the less well-known areas of ABA is behavioural gerontology - the application of ABA to solving the problems of older adults. Behavioural gerontologists may work with older adults who are in distress, who are struggling with apathy and disengagement, and to prevent skill loss that is often associated with cognitive decline and dementia progression. Sadly, of the over 48,000 BCBAs across the globe, fewer than 0.2% report that they work with adults over 65. In the UK, we have a small but growing number of behaviour analysts who are interested in behavioural gerontology, and with an ageing population, there’s no time like the present for the benefits of ABA to be expanded into older adult services.