Our ABA Research

Since our 2004 beginning, one of our major objectives has been to help fill the gap in Australian-specific autism research into ABA therapy’s effectiveness. Compared to the US, UK and Canada, Australian awareness of, and research on, ABA therapy’s effectiveness is limited. This knowledge gap is a barrier to building public and private sector financial support for intensive ABA therapy delivery to Australian children with ASD. It is also a barrier to families pursuing this therapy for their children on the spectrum.

To undertake this research, we have collected assessment test results and sessional data on almost every child who has graduated from our Full-Service Model. As a result, we are in the exceptional position of possessing a wealth of information on a cohort of 40+ Australian children. With this data, we are poised to undertake two major studies.

The first, titled Outcomes for Intensive, Early Intervention, Home-Based ABA Programs to a Cohort of Australian Preschool Children with Autism, will analyse these children’s outcomes, e.g. how many achieved ‘best outcomes’, what skill gains they achieved and when. It aims to understand how children progress through their ABA programs and will help demonstrate the effectiveness of our Full-Service Model. This study will be distinctive as the only Australian research undertaken to date on the effectiveness of intensive, early intervention, home-based ABA programs conducted on a cohort of Australian children.

The second, titled The Identification of Variables Predicting Outcomes for Children with Autism, will analyse the presence of predictive factors for these outcomes. This information will provide important insight into how the nature of a child’s response to their ABA program impacts his or her pathways. Factors such as a child’s baseline strengths and weaknesses in certain skill areas will be studied to help us understand what kind of progress a child might make in those areas and the link with outcome at graduation. No Australian research has been conducted to date on the predictive factors for individual children’s outcomes.

L4Life Psychologist, Research Coordinator and Program Supervisor Sarah Wood (B.A., P.G. Dip. Psych, M.Ed.Psych, M.A.P.S.) is leading these studies with consultation from L4Life’s Research Subcommittee: Dr Amanda Sampson (L4Life Co-Patron and Vice President of ABIA), Emma Miller (Clinical Director), Sara Allen (Provisional Psychologist, Program Supervisor and Research Assistant), Naomi Gray (Case Manager and Research Assistant), and Dr Mary Christian (former Board member and long-time research supporter at L4Life). We intend to complete both studies in 2017.

Q&A Expert Panel at the ABA Today Conference: Sarah Wood, L4Life Psychologist, Research Coordinator and Program Supervisor; Mitch Taubmann, Director of Autism Partnership US; Sarah Wilson, President of ABIA; Dr Peter Gerhardt, Executive Director of the US-based Educational Partnership for Instructing Children; Wendy White, Assistant Principal and Inclusion Teacher at Moomba Park Primary School. Moderator: Tom Gleisner.