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Position paper on keeping ABA progressive

A recent commentary in the peer-reviewed Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders advocates for a return to the spirit of progressive science that was historically the hallmark of Applied Behavior Analysis. The authors, including staff of Autism Partnership and several other prominent researchers and clinicians in the field of autism and ABA, voiced concern that over the past decade the field has drifted toward rigorous methodology and strict adherence to protocols with the result of stifling innovation and discouraging in-the-moment decision making.

There is strong agreement on the need for determining the function of behavior and objectively assessing the outcome of intervention, but the authors point out the need for flexibility in the moment, continually making adjustments based on a multitude of factors that are operating during a therapy session. The authors discuss ways that interventionists can become more efficient in such areas as data collection, reinforcer assessment and development, use of prompting strategies and functional assessment of behavior.

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