In The Politics of Autism, I write:
As long as government funds so much research, politics will shape the questions that scientists ask and determine the kinds of research that receive funding. Politics will even influence which scientists the policymakers will believe and which findings will guide public policy. In the end, science cannot tell us what kinds of outcomes we should want. ABA “works” in the sense that it helps some autistic people become more like their typically developing peers. Most parents regard such an outcome as desirable, but not all people on the spectrum agree.
For over 50 years, intervention methods informed by the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) have been empirically researched and clinically implemented for autistics/individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite the plethora of evidence for the effectiveness of ABA-based interventions, some autism rights and neurodiversity activists have expressed concerns with ABA-based interventions. Concerns have included discontent with historical events and possible harm from the procedures and goals targeted. The purpose of this manuscript is to examine some expressed concerns about ABA-based intervention and suggest productive ways of moving forward to provide the best outcomes for autistics/individuals diagnosed with ASD. The authors represent stakeholders from multiple sectors including board certified behavior analysts, licensed psychologists, parents, and autistics/individuals diagnosed with ASD.