The Disadvantages of Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysis is a type of behavior management therapy used in the treatment of autism, reports technique focuses on the use of rewards and positive reinforcement to teach new and desirable behaviors. Applied behavioral therapy has shown success in eliminating problem behaviors, teaching children how to interact with others and improving both verbal and nonverbal communication, according to Despite these successes, applied behavioral analysis does have disadvantages.

Time Commitment

Applied behavioral analysis is an effective treatment for autism, but one of the downfalls is the amount of time that is required to make it successful. According to, in order to reap the best benefits it requires intensive one-on-one work, with a trained specialist, for at least 25 to 40 hours a week. This can be a huge time commitment for parents, children and schools. If your child is receiving this type of treatment she will be engaged in this therapy for a large proportion of her time. This can be frustrating for her and for you as the parent, especially if you need to get other things accomplished in your day or have other children to care for.

Parental Involvement

Applied behavioral analysis does not occur occasionally or a couple of times a week; it is best as a life pattern, reports Your child will have to apply the techniques to daily life tasks; thus making your involvement as the parent important. According to, as a parent, you must learn the teaching and techniques of applied behavioral analysis so you can regularly help your child work though them, thereby maximizing the benefit. Although parental involvement is a positive thing for the success of the therapy, it can also be seen as a disadvantage. Many times, you are very busy and overwhelmed. Having to learn and teach a therapeutic technique can deter you from becoming involved with the therapy all together, making it completely unsuccessful for your child.


One of the basic components of applied behavioral therapy is the use of rewards to increase behaviors. A problem that results is finding a reward that works. Many times children who experience autism are picky and do not always like the rewards chosen for them, thus making beginning the treatment hard. As the parent, you will have to work with the therapist to find rewards that work, and sometimes your child may get tired of the reward or finicky on a daily basis. Therefore, you may always be on the hunt for new rewards to use, because they are the basis for how you get your child's behaviors to change.


When done on a regular intense basis the financial costs can be high. Tuition for a school focused on treating children with applied behavioral analysis can range from $16,000 to $25,000 a year, according to, while in-home intensive applied behavioral analysis can cost upwards of $40,000 a year.