Parental Perceptions and Misconceptions about Applied Behavior Analysis-Based Therapy

McConnell, Shanna L.
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It is unknown whether parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) hold misconceptions about applied behavior analysis (ABA)-based therapy. The current study approached this issue both quantitatively and qualitatively. In Study 1, 117 parents of children diagnosed with ASD responded to an online survey that included an ABA misconception measure, need for cognition scale, and demographic questionnaire. Parents rated agreement/knowledge level for 36 misconceptions. The majority of parents agreed with 6 misconception statements. Study 1 found that the longer the participant's child was receiving ABA-based therapy and the higher the participant's education level, the more they rejected misconceptions. Study 2 qualitatively investigated how parents of children with ASD perceived ABA, and if those perceptions indicated any misconceptions. Nine parents were interviewed in a focus group format. Results revealed that parents expressed their perception about the overall effect the ABA-based intervention had on their child, attitudes about the ABA-based intervention, and strains externally related to ABA-based therapy. However, very few misconceptions were expressed. Implications and thematic overlap between the studies are discussed.

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applied behavior analysis, autism spectrum disorder, misconception, parental perception