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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-05236: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 30 November 2016

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason applied behavioural analysis (ABA) to assist children who have been diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder is not recognised by (a) the NHS in Scotland and (b) local authorities and, in light of reports that ABA is being used by the NHS in other parts of the UK and internationally, whether it will ask for this to be reconsidered.

Answered by: Maureen Watt 12 December 2016

The key to providing appropriate support, is to take a person-centred approach and to use the range of tools and strategies which will ultimately result in the best outcomes for that individual. The use of interventions based on ABA is identified both in the SIGN 145 Assessment, diagnosis and interventions for autism spectrum disorders guideline ( and in the NHS Education for Scotland Matrix of psychological interventions for children and young people with autism being recommended in response to particular behaviours or needs.

NHS Education for Scotland also have a learning resource on Positive Behavioural Support


Additionally, within the CAMHS workstream in NHS Education for Scotland there have been recent Masterclass events on Applied Behavioural Analysis.

However, whilst the Government sets national policy direction to local authorities and health boards, ultimately it is the responsibility of local authorities and NHS and their integrated local planning partnerships to deliver services and allocate resources according to local priorities and considerations. Ultimately, NHS and local council care services are free to implement behavioural approaches depending on circumstances and needs.