Applied Behaviour Analysis-based Interventions for Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A comparative study of practices between England and China

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


People diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulty in social interaction and social communication and with restricted behaviours.
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is the application of the science of Behaviour Analysis and has proved to be an effective basis of interventions that aim to improve children’s IQ, adaptive behaviour, language communication and daily living skills.

The present study compared practices and experiences of parents and professionals in England and China and aimed to improve understanding of the application of ABA-based early intervention programmes from a cultural, medical and social perspective. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were carried out in both countries with parents of children diagnosed with ASD and professionals working with these children. A total of 15 interviews were carried out, involving with 7 participants from England and 8 participants from China.
Marked cultural and policy differences between England and China were found that affected the application of ABA-based early interventions.

In England, parents did not have a dominant role in the direct delivery of the interventions. In the main, professionals, such as schoolteachers and ABA therapists carried out the intervention on a one-to-one basis at home or in the classroom. Parents generally were not present during the intervention although English parents exercised parental responsibility through discussions with the therapists and supervisors. Although professionals standards demand that ABA-based interventions are supervised by Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BACB), frequently, this was not the case.

In contrast in China, parents were trained as the main therapist and, parent-focused ABA training was carried out by experienced teachers or international therapists. Given the relatively traditional gender roles in China, the caregiving responsibility for a child lies largely with the mother who takes care of the child with ASD. In addition, under the Chinese One-child policy, some of the children with autism are the only child in the family. In most cases, mothers and babies travelled far from their hometown to the big city to avail of ABA-based early intervention training. Big autism schools provide on-site accommodations for both mothers and children. ABA-based training and intervention is not individualised but carried out in large ‘classrooms’ where mothers and children were taught by a teacher who amid the ‘class’. This way of teaching provides a platform for traditional learning experiences but also for communication and mutual support between parents. Parents from both countries called for much more funding and support from the authorities.

Cultural and policy differences will be discussed and mutual learning will be outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2015
EventBERA Annual Conference 2015 - Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Sept 201517 Sept 2015


ConferenceBERA Annual Conference 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Applied Behaviour Analysis-based Interventions for Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A comparative study of practices between England and China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Faculty poster award 2016

    Liao, Yini (Recipient) & Dillenburger, Karola (Recipient), Jun 2016

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


Cite this