Autism has become much more prevalent over the past few decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one out of 54 children has an autism spectrum disorder. ASDs occur in children at every socioeconomic level and in every ethnic or racial group. While ASDs occur on a spectrum, using appropriate therapeutic interventions starting as early in childhood as possible can help people to enjoy better outcomes. Applied Behavioral Analysis is an evidence-based therapy for helping children with autism to achieve better outcomes and is the therapeutic approach of choice for most autism professionals.
What is Applied Behavioral Analysis, and what are its benefits?
Applied Behavioral Analysis has its roots in the work of B.F. Skinner, who is the father of behavior therapy. In the late 1960s, Ole Lovaas believed that Skinner’s approach could be applied to the symptoms of autism. His research over the next several decades formed the basis of what is known as ABA therapy today.
ABA focuses on helping children to improve different behaviors, including communication, social skills, academics, and reading. It is also used to help children improve their skills with adaptive learning, including grooming, hygiene, fine motor control, job competence, and self-help skills. ABA is effective for children and is used in a variety of settings, including the home, school, and clinics. Consistent ABA therapy offers multiple benefits, including significantly improving skills and behaviors while decreasing the need for specialized care.
When is ABA used?
ABA is a common therapeutic intervention used to help people with ASDs. It can help people with autism to learn new skills, improve social skills, and learn and maintain positive behaviors. ABA helps children learn to transfer newly learned behaviors and skills from situation to situation while reducing negative
behaviors. It is the most successful when it is used for children younger than age four for 20 or more hours per week. However, ABA can also help older children and adults. ABA helps children to manage some of the challenges that they might face because of having autism.
How ABA Works
ABA uses a research-based approach that is based on behavior and learning theories. Therapists who use ABA evaluate the behavior of children with autism to develop treatment plans. The plans will be focused on helping to improve behavioral and communication skills to help the children to be more successful in their personal lives and in school. Parents and teachers may also be trained by ABA therapists. The best outcomes are obtained with continuous evaluation and monitoring. As progress is made, the treatment will be evaluated and modified.
Many techniques are used within ABA treatment. It is flexible and adaptable to meet each unique person’s needs. It may be provided in multiple settings, including the community, home, and school. ABA can help children learn skills that are useful in daily life. It might include one-on-one interactions or group therapy.
Positive reinforcement is a central strategy used in ABA. When a child behaves positively, following it with a reward makes it likelier that he or she will repeat the behavior. Positive reinforcement can encourage positive behavioral changes over time.
A goal behavior will be identified by the therapist. Every time the child successfully uses that behavior, he or she will receive a meaningful reward. With positive rewards, the child will be encouraged to continue using the skills.
Identifying antecedents for behaviors and their consequences
An antecedent is something that happens before a child’s behavior. The consequences of a particular behavior include what occurs afterward. Identifying the antecedents and consequences of behaviors is an important part of ABA therapy because it can help to understand and teach behavior.
Antecedents might include things in the environment, internal factors, or something from another person. The behavior that results after the antecedent is the child’s response to it. The consequences can be positive or negative. Positive consequences can include positively reinforcing the behavior. Negative consequences might include ignoring improper or incorrect behavior. This can
help therapists and parents to understand why a behavior might be occurring and how to increase or decrease the likelihood that the behavior will reoccur.
What to expect from an ABA program
A good ABA program for people with autism is individualized to meet the child’s unique needs. The goal will be to help the child to build skills to increase independence and success in the short- and long-term. The program will be designed by a behavior analyst to meet each child’s needs, interests, skills, and preferences.
A detailed assessment will be completed and used to write treatment goals. The family’s goals might also be included. Some of the skill areas for which goals might be written include the following:
• Motor skills
• Social skills
• Leisure skills
• Academic skills
Each skill area will be broken down into incremental steps. The steps will be taught chronologically from simpler skills to more complex skills. Data will be collected in every session. This helps to monitor progress continuously. As needed, the behavior analyst will modify goals and plans.
Learn more about ABA Utah with Catalyst Behavior Solutions
If your loved one has an autism spectrum disorder, applied behavioral analysis from a therapist at Catalyst Behavior Solutions in Layton, Utah might help them to make meaningful changes so that they can enjoy more successful outcomes.
To learn more about ABA and how we can help, contact us today at 801-549-8821.