by Ursula Cotter, Former Principal, St Joseph’s Boys’ National School


This book, comprising twelve chapters by various authors, outlines the science of behaviour analysis and documents the struggle of bringing this science to the community. Parents and an international group of professionals relate their experiences of working together to apply principles discovered by the science of behaviour analysis. Their collective experiences form the framework of much of this book.

Parents and professionals describe how they devised and operated their own home programmes, how they set up ABA-based pre-school groups, schools and community-based, after-school activities. An approach for working with older children, Positive Behaviour Support, is documented; the struggle of parents who had to fight through the courts to access ABA and the experiences and opinions of siblings is described. Parents give their views of ABA and a list of resources details documented evidence of the effectiveness of behaviour therapy. ABA as an applied science and not a ‘therapy for autism’ and the need for thorough training in behaviour analysis as required for experts in other sciences are outlined.

I found the book to be informative, in particular the chapter entitled ‘Starting an ABA Programme’, written by a mother and CARD (Centre for Autism and Related Disorders) supervisor. It describes how the principles of early intensive intervention for children with autism have been used to teach one young boy effectively. This moving account details the intervention model utilised and the highs and lows involved for a family, in the implementation of this intervention programme.

The case for the right of parents to be fully informed about the practices of behaviour analysis and the right of children to benefit from these educational practices are well documented. Detailed accounts of parents and professionals as they document personal journeys in seeking to find the most effective help available for their children are insightful and enlightening. The contents of this book will primarily be of interest to parents, but also to all individuals working with children with autism.

APPLIED BEHAVIOUR ANALYSIS AND AUTISM: BUILDING A FUTURE TOGETHER, edited by Mickey Keenan, Mary Henderson, Ken P. Kerr and Karola Dillenburger (2006) Jessica Kingsley Publishers: London and Philadelphia. ISBN 13: 978 1 84310 310 3.