What is ABA Therapy?
If your child has autism spectrum disorder, you may be looking into the multitude of therapy options available. One type of therapy is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is based on the science of learning and understanding behavior. ABA focuses on how behaviors change or are affected by environmental factors, as well as how learning occurs.
“Behavior” refers to skills and actions necessary to conduct oneself in speech, play and life. In ABA, behavior must be both observable and measurable. The goal of ABA is to increase behaviors that are beneficial and helpful and to decrease harmful behaviors such as self-injurious behavior.
How does ABA help children who are diagnosed with autism?
ABA therapy can benefit children on the spectrum in many ways including advancing language and communication skills, improving attention and focus, helping to form social skills, and decreasing problem behaviors that could be harmful or problematic to the child.
ABA applies numerous techniques for both understanding behavior and changing behavior. The best part about ABA therapy is that it is tailored to the child. Programs can be offered at home, school or at local ABA centers. ABA professionals can work with children one-on-one or in group settings with social groups or outings.
Some of the techniques that are used in ABA that can also be beneficial for parents and teachers to use with the help and guidance of a professional are:
- Transitional Awareness: Let the child know what will happen next with the use of timers, clocks and schedules (these can be verbal or visual).
- Setting Expectations: Be consistent to help the child know what to expect. Most importantly, after setting expectations, follow through to avoid inconsistency.
- Giving Choices: Allowing the child a sense of control can be beneficial. Try to limit the choices to two to four options.
- Clear, Short and Concrete Directions: Directions such as “be good at the table” could be confusing to a child who does not know what “being good” looks like. Whereas “eat your food” is clearer and shorter for a child to grasp. For children who have trouble understanding language, visual demonstrations are helpful.
- · Acknowledge and give praise!
ABA uses scientific data and studies that are proven to help with behavioral management. ABA is only one of many different therapies that are aimed to help people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. For more resources for autism spectrum disorder, contact the Michael R. Boh Center for Child Development by visiting https://www.ochsner.org/boh.