What Is Applied Behavior Analysis & How It Can Help Your Child?
Pediatricians often suggest Applied Behavior Analysis when your child is diagnosed with autism. This therapy is extremely popular, and it’s designed to help children develop emotional skills and social skills. However, it’s important to understand the concept of Applied Behavior Analysis and how it helps your child!
Understanding Applied Behavior Analysis
ABA therapy is a well-defined therapy that’s meant to enhance the learning ability, and social communication through various reinforcement strategies. It’s termed as a gold-stand treatment for children struggling with autism, downs syndrome, and ADHD. In addition, it’s an effective therapy for panic disorder, OCD, phobia, dementia, substance use disorder, anger issues, and personality disorders.
It is shown to help children reduce problematic behavior and improve their learning skills, and has been supported by hundreds of research. ABA therapies are based on the idea of rewarding specific behaviors, so children repeat them. In the initial phases, the skills are broken into smaller steps and rewarding children for following a small step properly.
Previously, ABA revolved around punishing children for an incorrect step, but that’s been removed from the therapy. Currently, Discrete Trial Training is the most common form of ABA, which revolves around passing children through an array of tasks in the same sequence. When the children perform some tasks correctly, they are provided with a small reward.
There are other types of ABA, but they are less structured and are based on the playing activities or treating autistic children the same as the other children. One such example is Pivotal Response Treatment, where a child is praised if they conduct an important behavior, such as making eye contact or shaking hands. With regular reinforcement of these strategies, the children start remembering and using the skills.
Lastly, there is Early Start Denver Model, which uses play activities as well as conventional ABA therapy. It has more than one goal for every activity – this is a challenging and more draining therapy for the therapists, but it helps with quick skill development in autistic children.
How Does ABA Work?
Since there are various types and forms of ABA, the approach is designed to cater to the child’s specific needs. For this reason, it’s important to consult an ABA-trained therapist, and they will opt for a functional behavior assessment. The therapist is likely to ask about the child’s abilities, limitations, and strengths. In addition, the therapists interact with children to make proper observations about their skills and communication levels.
In some cases, the therapists will also observe the children’s behavior during routine tasks (they might visit your home). It’s safe to say that ASD treatments are different for every child and the therapists have to mention various interventions that meet the child’s requirements. You might be asked to integrate specific strategies in raising them for better outcomes. Also, ABA includes a formal plan which outlines the strategies and end goals of the therapy.
The end goals are generally focused on reducing harmful and problematic behaviors and improving their interaction and communication skills. However, to get the right outcomes, it’s important for the therapists, parents, and caregivers to be on the same page.
How It Helps Your Child?
The end goals of ABA depends on the individual needs of the children. With regular ABA, the children are highly likely to show more interest in social gatherings, have effective communication, start asking for help/assistance clearly, and show more focus at school. Moreover, it reduces the frequency of tantrums, and self-harming behaviors are stopped or reduced. It’s safe to say that ABA helps children learn about self-regulation and self-control.
When an autistic child completes a task given during ABA therapy, they receive a reward. According to studies, when people receive something valuable after following a certain behavior, they are likely to keep repeating those behaviors. So, with time, the children are positively reinforced to learn the right behaviors.
To summarize, ABA with a personalized plan helps autistic children learn the skills while overcoming their challenges. Not to forget, this therapy has a broad application as it helps with other disorders as well and shows proven results. That being said, this therapy is worth giving your time to!