First Advisor

Brenna Wood

Date of Award

Winter 3-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors






ABA, autism, criticism, improvement, education, BCBA


Applied behavior analysis (ABA) - originally a method of studying behavior - is now an intervention style that utilizes operant conditioning and behaviorism to teach and address behaviors that support the development of autistic students. While much of ABA is strongly supported by research, a debate exists over its use. Criticisms from people on the spectrum, their families, and professionals of various fields target everything from ABA’s implementation, research, and ethical basis. By clarifying what ABA entails, reviewing the history of ABA, compiling criticisms, and collecting opinions of Oregon-based behavioral specialists, this thesis seeks to identify regions where ABA can improve. Primarily among these recommendations is the need to increase the collaborative ability of behavioral professionals in school settings, improve the curriculum of future licensed behavioral specialists, and make action-based responses to the needs of autistic individuals.


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