YPIE Scientist: Arianna

Updated: May 27, 2021

Research: The Impact of Virtual ABA Therapy on Parental Attitudes and ABA Students’ Learning

Mentor: Tara Mathur


Autism Spectrum Disorder (also known as ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects

one’s ability to communicate and interact. This growing, developmental disorder affects 1 in 54 children born in the United States (CDC, 2020) with boys having a 5x higher chance of being affected than girls. Some symptoms include lack of eye contact, not looking at or listening to other people, not looking at things when another person points at them, not wanting to be held or cuddled, and trouble adapting to changes in routine (Mayo Clinic, 2018). One of the most common therapies is Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy, also known as ABA therapy. ABA therapy is the best-established and longest-standing form of therapy (Devita-Raeburn, 2016), which in the past year had to transition to virtual platforms. Using the program Google Forms, a survey was created and executed containing questions about both, virtual ABA therapy and in-person ABA therapy. These questions also ask about the children’s progress with both in certain areas, such as their communication and behavioral skills, and their parents’ personal opinion and preference. The participants were gathered from ACDS Scarsdale, a special education school that utilizes ABA therapy, and was also distributed using different Facebook groups. As a result, parents preferred in-person ABA therapy rather than virtual ABA therapy, as virtual ABA therapy requires a lot of parental involvement to help the student remain on task. Additionally, most students showed improvement with in-person ABA therapy rather than virtual ABA therapy, due to the fact that they are both heavy transitions. Results also show that it is a lot easier for a student with ASD to remain on task in person, which improves progress in most areas. Finally, parents also mentioned that the lack of human interaction with other students with ASD lessened communication and behavioral skills. Therefore, in-person ABA therapy is the best-suited form of ABA therapy for students with ASD.

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