ABA therapy and dog training both largely stem from the same principles- teaching children or dogs to behave in a desired manner by reinforcing preferred behaviors and discouraging other behaviors. Because of their similarities, many people argue that ABA is harmful because it is akin to dog training.
Survey results obtained from 221 autistic and non-autistic respondents suggest that many autistic and non-autistic people feel that ABA is similar to dog training.
However, others believe that while some of the principles between ABA and dog training are similar, dog training is much less brutal and harmful.
“Dog trainers don’t talk about systematically altering behavior as if the dog weren’t a thinking, feeling, sentient being.”Carol Millman
Here are some submissions from the aforementioned survey, wherein respondents were asked if ABA was akin to dog training:
In dog training, trainers assess the behaviors but also the consider what behaviors are normal and important for the dog’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
“A good dog trainer doesn’t extinguish behaviours which improve the dog’s mental health and happiness. But an ABA practitioner may not think twice before doing this to a human child.”Carol Millman