What is ABA Therapy for Autism?
Applied behavior analysis, or ABA, is a science that is dedicated to understanding behavior. ABA therapy is a type of therapy based on the scientific principles of behavior to create lasting behavior change, such as teaching new skills and decreasing behaviors that may cause harm. While ABA and the principles of behavior are used across many different areas, such as education, health and fitness, and psychology, ABA therapy has been proven effective to help children and adults diagnosed with autism to develop various skills and mitigate interfering behavior.
Since its conception, ABA therapy has evolved in different ways, with its focus now being on targeting teaching in the child’s natural environment in a way that is fun and engaging. Changes in ABA practice have developed in response to the criticism that ABA is too repetitive, has historically incorporated punishment, and reinforces the idea that children should learn to behave and perform in a neurotypical manner. The goal of ABA therapy is not to teach individuals how to present themselves as neurotypical. Instead, the goal is to assist individuals in learning skills that will allow them to become their own self-advocates and live a more fulfilling and independent life.
For those seeking to learn more about ABA and its possible benefits, some common questions include: what does ABA do for autism? What is an example of ABA therapy for autism? What is the best age to start ABA?
What Does ABA do for Autism?
ABA therapy has two main goals, teaching new skills that lead to a happy and independent life and to mitigate behaviors that interfere with the individuals ability to learn and access their environment. Despite some misconceptions about ABA therapy, the goal is not to discourage self-stimulatory behaviors that the individual likes to engage in, nor does ABA therapy seek to train people to appear neurotypical. The goal is simply to help individuals live a happy and fulfilled life.
There are several intervention approaches in the ABA field, and which intervention is appropriate varies on the individual learners needs. The Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and should work with individuals and their families to find the best intervention approach for their unique needs. Some interventions include Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), Discrete Trial Training, Naturalistic Instruction, Fluency Based Instruction, and more.
Through these interventions, ABA therapists can target meaningful behaviors and provide positive and enjoyable instruction to help children diagnosed with autism to develop functional skills that will help them be successful in different environments.
What is an Example of ABA Therapy for Autism?
One example of ABA therapy is teaching a child to communicate their wants and needs. A therapist might identify highly preferred items, model how to say the word, and then give the item to the child. They keep practicing saying the name of the item while having fun with the item until the child can do it independently.
What Is the Best Age to Start ABA?
Typically, a child will begin ABA between the ages of 2 and 6 years; beginning ABA therapy as early as two can assist the child in developing communication skills that will help them as they begin preschool and continue into grade school.
That being said, ABA can be an effective method for all ages, regardless of what stage in life the individual is navigating. Ultimately, the best time to pursue ABA therapy depends on the individual’s needs.
Conclusion: What is ABA Therapy for Autism?
ABA therapy, or applied behavior analysis, is a very effective treatment for individuals of all ages diagnosed with autism.
ABA therapy has been used to assist children and adults by teaching meaningful and socially significant behavior using positive reinforcement.