Is ABA Therapy Only for Autism?

Applied behavior analysis has become one of the most effective ways of providing therapy for children with autism. But, is ABA therapy only for autism?

The quick and resounding answer to this question is: No.

While the majority of attention that ABA therapy gets revolves around treating children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are many other useful applications for ABA therapy for a wide variety of people.

Here are some ways that ABA therapy can prove beneficial.

Read first: What is ABA Therapy?

Table Of Contents

ABA Therapy for Children

The most common way that ABA therapy is used is to help children who have autism. In fact, it has become one of the leading approaches to treat ASD, whether the patient is considered high-functioning or has severe autism.

The various strategies of ABA therapy can be put to use to help children improve social skills, and overcome challenges with repetitive behaviors and agitation. This is done by focusing, first and foremost, on communication skills, which leads to improvement in these other areas.

Some children with autism are non-verbal, and some have trouble expressing themselves in ways that others can understand. This can often result in difficulty and frustrations with relationships.

ABA therapists help children overcome these challenges to communicate in a clear way, and to build necessary skills they’ll need to succeed in life.


ABA therapy can also help to reduce some of the common symptoms of ADHD, including difficulty focusing, impulsivity and over activity. The system of rewarding patients for displaying positive behaviors helps to encourage them to repeat those behaviors in the future.1

Children who have ADHD can become motivated to improve social skills by receiving simple rewards such as stickers when they complete certain things or respond to situations in appropriate ways.

ABA therapists can also use ABA therapy to help children with ADHD slow down and consider what they’re about to do before they do it.

Learn more about ADHD


People who have gone through terrifying events might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, either through something they experienced themselves or witnessed. PTSD can occur in many people, children alike, causing sometimes severe instances of flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety.

ABA therapy can be used in combination with other strategies to help people who have PTSD. It can help to reduce some of the negative reactions they might have to memories or incidents in their life that trigger those memories.2

ABA therapists might trigger these memories intentionally as part of the treatment, and then carefully work with patients to guide and support them as they try to calm the reactions they have to them.

Learn more about PTSD

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder relates to anxiety, and ABA therapy can help mitigate the effects of it. Panic disorder, unlike PTSD, often doesn’t have a definitive or identifiable source.

Those who suffer from this disorder may experience significant fear, causing intense heart palpitations, as well as dizziness, breathlessness, stomach aches and chest pain.

ABA treatment can help by utilizing behavioral activation. In doing so, it attempts to engage patients with activities that bring them pleasure when they’re starting to feel as though they’re panicking. This helps to teach patients that their behavior can affect their mood, thereby giving them additional control over their own actions.3

Learn more about Panic Disorder


ABA therapy can be used in conjunction with other mental health therapies to help treat patients with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD. Unwanted thoughts often recur in patients who suffer from OCD, compelling them to repeat actions or experience compulsions.

People who have OCD experience repetitive behaviors and distressing thoughts often, so much so that it can completely disrupt their life. ABA therapy can outline behavior plans for patients to promote healthy reactions to whatever stimuli are triggering the negative behaviors.4

Learn more about OCD

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries are the top reason why children have disabilities. A significant blow to someone’s head can damage the brain significantly enough that it can affect how they behave.

Some children who have TBIs can experience extreme difficulties with movement, emotional issues and even impaired thinking.

ABA therapy can be integrated as part of a full-circle approach to improve a child’s quality of life by helping them to modify certain behaviors. Problematic behaviors could include a lack of motivation, defiance, anxiety and aggression.5

Like in other applications, ABA therapy can help patients with TBI re-learn the baseline and social skills they need to complete basic tasks.

Learn more about TBI

ABA Therapy is Not Only for Autism

In short, ABA Therapy is not only for children with autism, in fact it is a powerful treatment that has uses far beyond autism.

If you believe you or your child may be a good candidate for ABA Therapy please reach out any time, we are standing by waiting for your call!


  1. https://manhattanpsychologygroup.com/applied-behavioral-analysis-aba-as-a-treatment-for-adhd/
  2. https://www.csa.virginia.gov/Content/doc/Autism_and_Trauma_The_Compatability_of_ABA_and_Trauma_Informed_Practices_2019.pdf
  3. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3035599/
  4. https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisedu.org/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/
  5. https://www.mayinstitute.org/news/acl/brain-injury/aba-strategies-for-students-with-traumatic-brain-injury/