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Theory in practice: behaviour theory and autism intervention

McNally, Sinéad and Quigley, Jean (2008) Theory in practice: behaviour theory and autism intervention. In: British Psychological Society Conference, April 2008, RDS, Dublin. (Unpublished)

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To explore whether the relative success of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) in autism intervention is specific to the theory underlying ABA. Background: Despite radical differences between a behaviourist conceptualisation of autism and the more widely accepted neurodevelopmental approach to autism research, the impact of a behaviourist conceptual framework on the success and limitations of ABA in autism intervention is rarely examined. This study investigates the critical role of Behaviour Theory in both the success and limitations of ABA and makes several recommendations for overcoming existing challenges in psychoeducational interventions for autism.

A textual analysis of the experimental and theoretical literature on ABA in autism intervention. A literature review was carried out on texts that directly addressed the role of behaviour Theory in ABA autism intervention and these texts were evaluated with regard to best practice as elucidated in the philosophy of science literature.

The role that behaviour Theory plays in ABA’s success is underdetermined by the data. That is to say, that factors not specific to behaviour Theory (such as one-to-one instruction and use of child-led rewards) may equally account for the achievements of ABA in autism intervention.

If ABA’s limited success in autism intervention is not due to its underlying conceptual framework then we may replace that framework with a more informed theory of autism while maintaining those structural aspects of ABA that enhance autism intervention.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > Children > Child Development
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2014 14:00
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2015 16:19

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