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Ole Ivar Løvaas Ph.D. (8 May 1927 – 2 August 2010)[1][2] was a Norwegian-American clinical psychologist at UCLA. He is considered to be one of the fathers of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for autism through his development of the Lovaas technique (now known as early intensive behavior intervention) and the first to provide evidence that the behavior of autistic children can be modified through teaching.[3][4] His method is the only modality approved by the Surgeon General's Office and has over thirty years of scientific research. In recent times, people refer to his method as ABA.

Lovaas methodEdit

Findings of independent peer reviewed studies show benefits associated with the Lovaas method[5], though some have disputed this[6]. In his original studies in the late 1950s aversives such as electric shock successfully treated approximately 50% of individuals engaging in instances of extreme self-injury whose life expectancy was reduced by secondary infection. Subsequent studies were on extinction methods, in which attention is given only when persons are not engaging in self-injury.

Work with George Rekers on gender-variant childrenEdit

In addition to his extensive work with autistic children, in the 1970s Lovaas co-authored four papers with George Rekers on children with atypical gender behaviors.[7][8][9][10] The subject of the first of these studies, a child of 4 years 11 months at the inception of treatment, committed suicide as an adult; his family attribute the suicide to this treatment.[7][11][12][13]

Personal lifeEdit

Lovaas was born in Lier, Norway and was a farm worker during the 1940s Nazi occupation of Norway. After the war, Lovaas earned a music scholarship to Luther College in the American state of Iowa. He earned his undergraduate degree at Luther College and his doctorate in psychology from the University of Washington. Married twice, Lovvas had four children from his first marriage and is survived by six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.[14]


  • Teaching Developmentally Disabled Children: The Me Book, 1981
  • Teaching Individuals With Developmental Delays: Basic Intervention Techniques, 2000


  1. Autism Support Network.
  2. Campbell, Victoria. Pioneer in autism treatment dies,
  3. Satcher, David Mental Health: A report of the Surgeon General. Department of Health and Human Services. URL accessed on 2 April 2008.
  4. "Lovaas Revisited: Should we ever have left?", by Steve Buchman,, Retrieved on 28 January 2009.
  5. Sallows GO, Graupner TD (2005). Intensive behavioral treatment for children with autism: four-year outcome and predictors. Am J Ment Retard 110 (6): 417–38.
  6. (2008). Behavioural and Developmental Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Clinical Systematic Review. PLoS ONE 3 (11).
  7. 7.0 7.1 (1974). Behavioral Treatment of Deviant Sex-Role Behaviors in a Male Child. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 7 (2): 173–190.
  8. (June 1974). The behavioral treatment of a "transsexual" preadolescent boy. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 2 (2): 99–116.
  9. (Spring 1977). Child gender disturbances: A clinical rationale for intervention. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice 14 (1): 2–11.
  10. [[George Alan Rekers|]] (February 1978). Sex-role stereotypy and professional intervention for childhood gender disturbance. Professional Psychology 9 (1): 127–136.
  11. includeonly>"Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says", 7 June 2011. Retrieved on 9 June 2011.
  12. includeonly>Szalavitz, Maia. "The 'Sissy Boy' Experiment: Why Gender-Related Cases Call for Scientists' Humility", 8 June 2011. Retrieved on 9 June 2011.
  13. includeonly>Warren Throckmorton. "Experts and Homosexuality: Don't Try This at Home", 9 June 2011. Retrieved on 9 June 2011.
  14. includeonly>"Ole Ivar Lovaas dies at 83; UCLA psychology professor pioneered autism treatment", August 6, 2010.

Further readingEdit

  • "Screams, Slaps & Love: A surprising, shocking treatment helps far-gone mental cripples". Life magazine, 1965.
  • Lovaas OI (1987). Behavioral treatment and normal educational and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. J Consult Clin Psychol 55 (1): 3–9.

External links Edit

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