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Facts vs. Myths about ABA Therapy

June 29, 2023

While there is no miracle cure for autism, applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is the most frequently recommended option for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder. It’s also the therapy most supported by everyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the American Medication Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Despite all these accolades, there are still many myths about ABA therapy, how it works, and how children benefit from it. Butterfly Effects, a national leader in ABA therapy, is here to dispel the myths and provide families with the information they need to move forward with this often life-changing treatment.

Myth: ABA therapy is only for high-functioning children.

After serving more than 10,000 families, Butterfly Effects has seen how effective ABA therapy can be in treating lower-functioning children with autism spectrum disorder. Unlike other forms of therapy, where services are delivered during short periods of time, ABA therapy extends to all hours of the child’s day through extensive caregiver education and support. 

At Butterfly Effects, our family-centered approach to ABA therapy ensures that children have the opportunity to thrive, wherever they are on the spectrum. We view ABA therapy as a collaborative effort, creating individualized treatment plans that meet the entire family’s specific needs while closely monitoring the child’s progress.

Myth: ABA therapy is only for low-functioning children.

Even children with autism spectrum disorder who are functioning at the highest level can still benefit from the learning opportunities and experiences provided by ABA therapy. For higher-functioning children, ABA therapy can help improve their conversation skills, socialization skills, and so much more. Butterfly Effects currently uses ABA therapy to address academic delays and behavioral issues across all functioning levels.

Myth: ABA therapy only uses aversive techniques to correct behaviors.

Children with autism spectrum disorder need a lot of positive reinforcement to successfully achieve their goals. ABA therapy at Butterfly Effects teaches children by breaking down complex tasks into manageable steps, then building on their progress as they master each step – and that includes acknowledging their victories.

When inappropriate behavior occurs, we often redirect the child to another activity or use a response cost system (when tokens or special privileges are taken away as a negative consequence of their behavior). Over time, ABA therapy teaches the child how to replace inappropriate behaviors with appropriate ones, rewarding positive behavior with praise and encouragement.

Myth: ABA therapy only teaches one way to respond.

ABA therapy is a structured teaching method that includes the generalization of stimuli, people, and settings. For example, children learn how to identify an animal whether it’s a stuffed toy, in a photo, or live in front of them at the zoo. Or they learn to answer questions regardless of who asks them (a family member, a teacher, or someone they just met).

But generalization is just one part of ABA therapy. Children with autism spectrum disorder also learn multiple ways to respond to situations and are encouraged to be flexible and use their imaginations. 

Myth: ABA therapy only addresses behavioral issues.

In addition to behavioral concerns, ABA therapy recognizes the need to address other issues that children with autism spectrum disorder (and their families) might face. At Butterfly Effects, we go far beyond behavioral issues, helping children learn functional communication, develop meaningful social relationships, and build their cognitive skills. ABA therapy also teaches daily living skills, such as grooming and hygiene, as well as job readiness for teens.

Myth: ABA therapy is unnatural.

ABA therapy is very structured, especially during the beginning stages of treatment. But because of the family-centered approach at Butterfly Effects, our team is trained to work within the child’s natural environments as well – creating an atmosphere where the child and their family feel equally comfortable at treatment, at home, and elsewhere. ABA therapy teaches skills and replacement behaviors that can be transferred to many other natural settings, from school to church to the shopping mall.

Myth: ABA therapy will “heal” the child.

Research shows that ABA therapy can greatly improve the quality of life of children with autism spectrum disorder and their families. However, it is not meant to “heal” the child – ABA therapy at Butterfly Effects is about meeting the child where they are and creating a treatment plan that addresses their unique needs in the best way possible.

Learn more about Butterfly Effects and ABA therapy today

Butterfly Effects has a long history of helping children and families affected by autism spectrum disorder through successful ABA therapy. But every child is different, and that’s why our step-by-step approach to treatment is so important. 

Will your family be next? The first step is scheduling a phone interview with a member of our client services team to determine if your child is a good fit for our ABA therapy services. 

To learn more, visit us today at

Father playing with his little girl at home Father playing with his little girl at home