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Does ABA Teach Robotic Behavior?

Applied Behavior Analysis Anaheim

There have been rumors that ABA teaches robotic behavior among children with Autism. In ABA we work on skills like verbal communication, non-verbal communication, social cues, social responses, following commands, compliance, waiting, making friends, conversation, sharing, self-help routines like washing hands, and many other skills. So are the rumors true?

Does ABA Teach Robotic Behavior? 

No! ABA does not teach children robotic behavior. This is a common misconception. There are a few common misconceptions about ABA, which sometimes make families afraid to start ABA therapy for their child.

“ABA turns children into robots,” has occasionally been a discussion. However, this is not true. ABA teaches new skills. When learning new skills, most of us are not perfect at those skills.

Imagine a baby learning to walk. The baby might stumble and fall many times. They might make repetitive movements as they test out the new skill. In a similar way, when we learn a new language or new social skills, we may do the same behavior over and over again in a similar way. This would occur until we practiced enough to feel fluent, and our behavior would become less choppy, awkward, and rehearsed. It would feel more fluid.

Over time, children with Autism who are learning language and social skills may first appear stilted, but over time will learn to fluidly demonstrate those skills.

Children with Autism who appear robotic in their new skills have what we call emerging skills. We recommend continued therapy to make the skills they have learned appear more natural and fluid. Over time, the new behaviors will not look robotic, and should appear more natural. ABA will maximize a child’s ability to express their own personality and preferences by teaching them the skills they need to communicate, engage with peers, and otherwise enjoy life…by teaching through play.


If you feel that your child will benefit from ABA then contact Acuity Behavior Solutions at 714-696-2862 for more information about starting ABA services.