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Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based method to improve or change specific behaviors. The intervention is designed to assist children and their families in socially significant ways. ABA therapy helps to teach complex tasks by breaking them down into simple, discrete steps. It focuses both on observable events (example: kicking, running, screaming) and private events (example: thinking, imagining).
ABA therapists use the principles of applied behavior analysis to decrease challenging behavior, increase/teach appropriate behavior, and teach functional skills and communication. They work on building individualized treatment plans based on discussions with the parent/caregiver and an assessment.
Here is the comprehensive list of steps taken during ABA therapy.
Data is collected and continuously evaluated during the baseline and intervention phases and guides all decisions regarding intervention modification. The goal is to produce effective and generalizable changes in behavior. Reassessment will be done once every 6 months, or when either the client masters all the goals or the current treatment plan doesn’t work anymore.
Some common strategies used in ABA are reinforcement, modeling, prompting, chaining, shaping, the token system, natural environment training, and functional communication training (FCT). Systematic manipulation of environmental events, such as repeated presentation, and the removal of antecedents (events that immediately precede the behavior) and consequences (events that immediately follow the behavior) will be followed by teaching appropriate skills to decrease the inappropriate behavior and to increase the replacement behavior.
ABA therapy is a recommended option for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is suggested by many leading insurance companies, state health agencies in the USA, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Early diagnosis and intervention are highly recommended to see long term positive effects in children with ASD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and developmental delays. To minimize the stress on the family, we recommend that a family respond immediately to challenging situations early on. The situation may accumulate more stress, especially if you don’t know how to handle and cope with severe behaviors. During ABA, a therapist works closely with the family, discusses skills they want their child to improve, identifies the skill deficit through assessment, and tailors the intervention plan accordingly. Parent/caregiver/teacher training is also provided to teach and/or generalize the behavior to various settings.
For more positive results, we encourage parents to actively participate in the session whenever possible. This helps the parents understand more about the ways to handle their children at home and at various settings which eventually allows them to explore more settings with the child without challenging behaviors.
We also work closely with family and children who are having severe sensory issues and find difficulty in brushing their teeth, taking baths, getting a haircut, etc. We use the desensitization/shaping procedure and slowly expose the child to the specific environments and objects.
Below are some resources for parents and caregivers about ABA, tips on how to work with their children, and methods to expand communication skills in a natural setting.