The stats say that about 1 out of every 68 children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If your child has an ASD diagnosis, there are a variety of different treatment options. For many children, autism therapy can help improve behaviors and provide new skillsets. One of the most effective, and most widely used, therapies is Applied Behavior Analysis. Also known as ABA therapy, this option can help your child to overcome obstacles and develop positive social abilities. If you're considering this type of therapy for your child, understanding the background behind it and some of the major pluses can help you to decide if it's right for you family.
How long have therapists been using ABA?
This type of treatment is far from a fad. It's been in use since the 1960s. There is a long history of studies that show that this autism therapy works when used by well-trained professionals.
Who can provide ABA therapy?
Only a qualified professional can provide this type of treatment. A licensed clinical psychologist with specialized training in ABA or a board certified behavior analyst (with an autism specialization) can create ABA programs and monitor the child's progress. Board certified professionals have direct training and supervised experience working with Applied Behavior Analysis and clients with autism. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board and the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts are the major certification organizations to look for, according to Autism Speaks.
How does ABA work?
This in-depth therapy uses reinforcement to change the child's behavior. It involves rewarding/praising wanted behaviors and ignoring the undesirable ones. The therapy starts with an "antecedent." This is a verbal or physical stimulus that can come from the therapist, another person, the child, or the environment itself. There is then a consequence—which is based on the behavior. The goal here is for the child to learn positive skills and behaviors through the use of praise. This goal may take many times of repeating the action and breaking the skill down into several smaller steps before the child has success.
Does ABA work?
Yes! Again, this therapy has been in use since the 1960s. For decades professionals having been helping autistic children to overcome barriers and build new skills through this method. Keep in mind, this isn't a magic fix and it's not an overnight practice. ABA therapy takes hard work and persistence (from the child, the family and the therapist). Your child may have to undergo intensive therapy—which is between 25 and 40 hours a week for one to three years. That said, in many cases the work is worth it when it comes to the end results.
ABA is one type of autism therapy that has a proven track record. For years therapy professionals have been using this technique to help people diagnosed with ASD. If you're wondering what ABA therapy can specifically do for your child—the positive effects include better communication abilities, the ability to engage in self-care behaviors and increased social/play skills. For more information, contact a clinic like White Bridle Learning & Therapy.