ABA Isn’t Only for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

ABA Isn’t Only for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ABA is widely recognized as a necessary treatment for children and adults with ASD. The epidemic of Autism Spectrum Disorder combined with an influential court case that made funding available in Canada for ABA treatment to children on the Autism Spectrum created high demand for services specific to the ASD population. ABA remains the fundamental treatment for children with ASD because it is successful and well-suited to addressing the manifestations of the diagnosis.


In November 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a unanimous 7–0 verdict in a high profile case involving behavioural treatment (Auton v. British Columbia). Essentially the issue was whether children with autism had the right to the best treatment available. In that case, the courts acknowledged that Applied Behaviour Analysis is the best treatment available. Since then ABA programs, education, services, and agencies have proliferated in Canada, most paid for through government funding for early autism intervention.


As a result of the court ruling and subsequent growth in services, many people mistakenly assume that Applied Behaviour Analysis is only for children and only for autism interventions. In fact interventions and research that supported the development and growth of ABA were conducted with adults living in facilities or involved in sheltered workshop (employment) programs. ABA has been proven successful in all settings with people of all ages.


Applied Behaviour Analysis or ABA is the best treatment available for supporting people with all neurobehavioural disabilities. ABA is also a powerful mechanism for behaviour change in all individuals or groups. However, it is yet to be integrated into the therapeutic services offered though healthcare. There are exceptions in programs and facilities that have sought support for their staff through Parley Services.


Board Certified Behaviour Analysts are in the process of becoming licensed through the College of Psychologists. When that occurs in 2017, it is likely that ABA will receive coverage through insurance providers and start to become more widely recognized as an excellent empirically supported treatment for all.